HRC Foundation Introduces 2019 Global Innovators

by HRC Staff

HRC Foundation is excited to introduce the talented leaders driving LGBTQ equality internationally who will be participating in our fourth annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit.

HRC Foundation is excited to introduce the talented leaders driving LGBTQ equality internationally who will be participating in our fourth annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit. Selected from hundreds of outstanding applications, this group of 29 advocates from 27 different countries will be in Washington, D.C. from April 22-25 for four full days of learning, sharing and connecting with each other and HRC.

“Each year, we continue to be amazed at advocates like these who are working tirelessly for LGBTQ equality around the world,” HRC Global Director of Leadership Jay Gilliam said. “Their efforts are a testament to the innovation and creativity in our global movement for equality.”

These Global Innovators are using traditional and social media to launch public awareness campaigns that help change hearts and minds and building allyship across places including faith and religious institutions and businesses. They are focusing their attention on the most vulnerable in our LGBTQ community, such as refugees and asylum seekers and transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.

Since 2016, HRC Foundation’s Global Summit has served as a powerful and inspiring way for HRC to connect LGBTQ leaders and allies to help strengthen the capacity of their movements. The 2019 Global Innovators join HRC’s growing network of advocates and partners who represent more than 80 countries.

Meet Our Global Innovators:


Charles Mukoma

Name: Charles Mukoma
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: ISHTAR-MSM
Country: Kenya
Innovation: Charles Mukoma provide legal support to the team that went to Kenya’s Court of Appeals to end forced anal examinations on LGBTQ people. In March of 2018, the court ruled in their favor, barring the horrific practice.

Lawrence Chipili

Name: Lawrence Phiri Chipili
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: LITE
Country: Malawi
Innovation: Lawrence Phiri Chipili is the founder of the first LGBTQ organization in Malawi. In 2016, he conducted a needs assessment in both rural and urban areas to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ people. Currently, he is conducting training with medical, police and religious leaders on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Linda Baumann

Name: Linda Magano Baumann
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: Namibia Diverse Women's Association
Country: Namibia  
Innovation: Linda Magano Baumann initiated the Human Rights Defenders Project for LGBTQ people in Namibia, the first of its kind in the country. The project sought to inform LGBTQ people in Namibia of their rights through understanding the Namibian constitution and the work of the African Commission and the United Nations. More than 60 human rights defenders from across the country were trained.

Carter Honoree Wolf

Name: Carter Honoree Wolf
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Rwanda Gender Pride
Country: Rwanda
Innovation: Carter Honoree Wolf was a part of the first research task force team to conduct a study on the LGBTQ community, civil society organizations as well as the general population in Kigali in 2017. The Rwandan LGBTI Coalition (Isange), supported by Affirming Faith Ministries, organized the team.

Landa Mabenge

Name: Landa Mabenge
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Landa Mabenge Consulting
Country: South Africa
Innovation: As a transgender advocate and educator, Landa Mabenge has been involved in the transformation of Stellenbosch University’s Equality Unit. Since 2016, he has been working to create spaces for students who identify as transgender, including securing gender-neutral housing at the university and showing that respecting gender diversity is an important part of health care and health services.

Maurance Chuwa

Name: Maurance Chuwa
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Transgender Movement In Tanzania (TMT)
Country: Tanzania
Innovation: The Tukumbukwe Project in 2016, coordinated by the Transgender Movement In Tanzania, provided 30 transgender community members with training on human rights and sexual reproductive health and rights. Participants learned to advocate for their rights, including in medical settings.  

Mwamba Nyanda

Name: Mwamba Nyanda
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Tanzania Trans Initiative (TTI)
Country: Tanzania
Innovation:  Mwamba Nyanda holds quarterly discussions with trans groups from different areas to discuss trans Issues, challenges and creative ways to be visible.

Junior Tom Twongyeirwe

Name: Junior Twongyeirwe Junior (Tom)
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Universal Coalition of Affirming Africans Uganda UCAA-UG
Country: Uganda
Innovation: Junior Twongyeirwe Junior (Tom) coordinates the Universal Coalition of Affirming Africans Uganda (UCAA-UG), a non-governmental, non-discriminative and non-profit LGBTI religious movement in Uganda comprised of LGBTI faith leaders and allies.


Simran Shaikh

Name: Simran Shaikh
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: India HIV/AIDS Alliance
Country: India
Innovation: Simran Shaikh has worked to establish transgender welfare boards at the state level. She seeks to create and enable an environment in which transgender people can begin   to realize their rights. That includes in education, where participants are supported in pursuing vocational training courses.

Sanjay Sharma

Name: Sanjay Sharma
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Blue Diamond Society
Country: Nepal
Innovation: Sanjay Sharma established a community-based organization for equal rights and opportunities for the LGBTQ community to work on issues such as changing gender markers and names on legal documents, sensitizing and educating parliamentarians on LGBTQ rights, training health care providers about LGBTQ stigma and encouraging religious leaders to change the perception of society toward the LGBTQ community.

Salman Khan

Name: Salman Khan
Pronouns: He/Him/His or She/Her/Hers
Organization: Queeristan
Country: Pakistan
Innovation: Salman Khan is the founder of “Queeristan,” Pakistan's first LGBTQ magazine and e-collective for gender and sexual minorities in the country. Through Queeristan, he is working toward creating safe digital spaces where Pakistan’s LGBTQ community can express its pride, empower LGBTQ youth and challenge stereotypes by advocating for LGBTQ rights in the country.



Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Equality Azerbaijan
Country: Azerbaijan
Innovation: He launched “Equality Azerbaijan” and organized an event to provide participants with comprehensive information on LGBTQ issues and break down stereotypes with scientific facts to help exterminate homophobia.

Vladana Vasic

Name: Vladana Vasić
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: Sarajevo Open Centre
Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Innovation: In the last two years, Vladana Vasić has worked through Sarajevo Open Centre to engage in advocacy and raise awareness about the violations of freedom of assembly of LGBTQ people after Sarajevo Open Centre was denied the ability to host an event in a public square.

Simeon Vasilev

Name: Simeon Vasilev
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: GLAS Foundation
Country: Bulgaria
Innovation: Simeon Vasilev helped to create the first Bulgarian website where anyone can report being a victim or witness of a hate crime. Currently, hate crimes and violence targeting sexual orientation or gender identity are not recognized in the Criminal Code of Bulgaria.

Alexandru Palas

Name: Alex Palas
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: MozaiQ LGBT
Country: Romania
Innovation: From 2017-2018, Alex Palas and MosaiQ worked on building the capacity of the LGBTQ community in large cities in Romania to gain support for LGBTQ issues, and encourage opposition to a referendum that would define marriage as between an man and a woman. Due in part to this work, the referendum was defeated in 2018.

Dragoslava Barzut

Name: Dragoslava Barzut
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: Da Se Zna!
Country: Serbia
Innovation: Dragoslava Barzut is founder of Da Se Zna!, which translates to, “So it is known!” or “Make it known!” The initiative provides an online portal where LGBT people can report incidents of violence and discrimination and serves as a database for such incidents in the interest of holding government institutions accountable.

Ruslana Panukhnyk

Name: Ruslana Panukhnyk
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: KyivPride NGO
Country: Ukraine
Innovation: Through her work as director of KyivPride NGO, Ruslana Panukhnyk has worked on different formats, methods and opportunities to achieve visibility for the LGBTQ community. This has included working with political leaders to include LGBTQ issues in their platforms, engaging celebrities and artists, and lifting up out members of the military.  

Latin America and the Caribbean

Mariano Ruiz

Name: Mariano Ruiz
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Argentine LGBT Federation
Country: Argentina
Innovation: Last year, Mariano Ruiz designed a program for language and culture classes for LGBTQ asylum seekers in Argentina. The program is currently being implemented with the support of the Buenos Aires government and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Argentina.

Donnya Piggott

Name: Donnya Piggott
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: Barbados - Gays, Lesbians and All-sexuals against Discrimination/ Pink Coconuts
Country: Barbados
Innovation: Pink Coconuts, an initiative by B-GLAD, is a social startup aimed at using tourism to promote a more inclusive Caribbean for both locals and visitors. It uses LGBTQ travel as an incentive for local companies to engage in the values of inclusion and diversity and to include equal opportunity policies for LGBTQ people at the company level.

Pedro Gutierrez Guevara

Name: Pedro Gutiérrez Guevara
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Sin Etiquetas 96.1
Country: Ecuador
Innovation: Sin Etiquetas 96.1 has created a dialogue on LGBTQ and other issues in conservative cities. Pedro Gutiérrez Guevara uses his platform to generate campaigns about HIV prevention, diverse families and sexual violence.

Enrique Torre Molina

Name: Enrique Torre Molina
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Colmena 41
Country: Mexico
Innovation: In 2019, Enrique Torre Molina cofounded Colmena 41, which connects and inspires the LGBTQ community and allies through events, research and collaboration.

Ro-Ann Mohammed

Name: Ro-Ann Mohammed
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: SHE - Sexuality Health & Empowerment
Country: Trinidad & Tobago / Barbados
Innovation: In 2018, Ro-Ann Mohammed was a director of the Pride Barbados Committee, comprised of local LGBTQ activists, civil society organizations, community event planners and allies, which created and executed Barbados’ first official recognition and celebration of Pride Month.

Damian Cabrera

Name: Damián Cabrera-Candelaria
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: University of Puerto Rico- Graduate School of Public Health
Country: Puerto Rico
Innovation: Many LGBTQ people in Puerto Rico face hurdles accessing services that are friendly and sensitive to their needs. To address this, Damián Cabrera-Candelaria founded Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ Services Directory. By visiting, members gain access to LGBTQ-friendly providers for mental and physical health, PrEP, HIV testing, legal and housing services, and advocacy organizations.  

Middle East and North Africa

Eile Ballan

Name: Elie Ballan
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality M-Coalition
Country: Lebanon
Innovation: Elie Ballan and his organization created a web portal where users in six Middle Eastern and North African countries can search for LGBTQ-friendly HIV and STI testing centers  and alert other users about the services. He has also appeared on multiple TV and radio networks to openly discuss his sexual orientation and that he is living with HIV.

Meriem Hatim

Name: Meriem Hatim
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: Union Féministe Libre
Country: Morocco
Innovation: L'Union Féministe Libre is the first organization in Morocco that openly works on LGBTQ rights to be recognized by the Moroccan government. One of its most significant achievements is the creation of the application "Manchoufouch," which tracks gender- and sexuality-based violence in Morocco.

Naoufal Bouzid

Name: Naoufal Bouzid
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Organization: Equality Morocco, Pan Africa ILGA
Country: Morocco
Innovation: Naoufal Bouzid wrote and submitted a shadow report to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the discrimination LGBTQ people with disabilities face in Morocco. As a result, the committee raised issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual characteristics with the government of Morocco, and included four of his recommendations in its concluding remarks.

Arwa Osman

Name: Arwa Osman
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Organization: Mesahat Foundation
Country: Sudan
Innovation: Arwa Osman participated in Queer Sudanese Voices, a project implemented by the Mesahat Foundation, to create a record of LGBTQ people in Sudan. Using oral histories, photography and short films, the project documented the challenges, hardship and abuse that the community faces.

Not all Innovators who participated in the 2019 Global Innovative Advocacy Summit are featured on this blog due to security concerns in their home countries.