17th May 2017

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO). Events are taking place around the world to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues.

In recognition of IDAHO the North East LGBT Awards were held last night. We were delighted to attend the ceremony and we had a great night. The first award of the night was for the ‘LGBT Ally of the Year’. Taking her completely by surprise Ben Hoare Bell Solicitor Lui Asquith was announced as a nominee. Lui was overjoyed (and lost for words!) as she was then announced as the winner. Lui has made a real impact at Ben Hoare Bell and on the LGBT+ community and this award was very well deserved.

Lui with the 'LGBT Ally Award' 2017
Lui with the ‘LGBT Ally Award’ 2017
Cris McCurley and Lui Asquith
Cris McCurley and Lui Asquith
Lui Receiving the 'LGBT Ally Award' 2017
Lui Receiving the ‘LGBT Ally Award’ 2017











The last award of the night was the ‘Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community’ Award sponsored by Ben Hoare Bell. Lui Asquith introduced the award with a moving speech about the importance of community (see the full speech below). Ben Hoare Bell Partner Cris McCurley then presented the worthy winners – Northern Proud Voices – with the award.

Cris and Lui Presenting the 'Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community' Award to Northern Proud Voices
Cris and Lui Presenting the ‘Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community’ Award to Northern Proud Voices
Lui Presenting the 'Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community' Award
Lui Presenting the ‘Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community’ Award

Thank you to the Rainbow Foundation for organising such a brilliant event. The hosts, the entertainers and all of the nominees did a fantastic job.

Lui’s Speech Introducing the ‘Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community’ Award

It is hard to find a word that means more to the LGBTIQ communities, than ‘community’. It is a term that holds so much weight in our history, and still in our every day.

We are here in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. And in that recognition we remember our friends who have fought for this evening. We recognise you for having created communities within our overarching community, so we can be here tonight. We celebrate them and we celebrate you.

Most of us have felt that loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community. Whatever that means for you. I like to imagine a tree and we have the stem as a central community, and thousands of branches coming off it (it is a really big tree!), being thousands of individuals within thousands of different communities. Although we may branch off, spreading our beauty over thousands of miles (the tree is really big!) we stand together.

We stand together knowing that without community we would not be sat here. Knowing that without community you may not have come out to that person. Knowing that without community that person may not have come out to you.

And to those who are yet to reach out to us, yet to find their branch, we want you to know that we are here.

Community is what we are. It is how we stand. It is how we started. It is how we keep going. Tonight we keep going. We are here tonight as a community standing against fear and hate. We stand here, together, proud in mutual trust and respect.

We are all individuals. Unique. We each have a community of thoughts and histories. Thank you for sharing and being brave enough to share that with who you have. Allowing your liberty and freedom. Which many of us have had to do at the expense of facing prejudice and discrimination. For saying ‘I am’. It was worth it – look around – what an amazing community we are, because of that strength. We are a family.

We wanted to provide each one of the nominees an award tonight, for each one deserves it. Alas, that’s not what an award ceremony is about. And the winner we have chosen is because we believe that music brings people together and art is so important – allowing expression and safety – art has non-convention at the heart of it. And this group sings in the liberty of that, every Thursday.

It is our pleasure to announce that the winner of the Building a Stronger LGBT+ Community award is Northern Proud Voices.