Celebrating Pride Month: Honouring LGBTIQ+ rights defenders

Join us as we honour the tireless efforts of human rights defenders who advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ+ persons.

By Alejandra Kaiser on

This Pride Month, we pay tribute to the tireless efforts of human rights defenders who champion the rights of LGBTIQ+ communities. Among these inspiring activists are Amanita Calderón-Cifuentes, a dedicated advocate for transgender rights, as well as Karla Avelar and Feliciano Reyna, both Laureates of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Their life-long commitment to justice and equality serves as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.


Amanita was a guest speaker at the European Parliament in 2022.

Amanita Calderón-Cifuentes is a Colombian transgender woman who is dedicating her life to transgender rights. Born in Colombia, transitioning meant going against her family, it meant living without a home and a job, but she assures it was a painful but wonderful liberation. Today she is a doctor in molecular biology and HIV research advocacy officer at Transgender Europe (TGEU). She focuses on how transphobia and cisnormativity can block access of trans and non-binary people to health rights. Amanita also works in capacity building with health professionals around the world so they can include gender-tailored programmes that fight transphobic health systems. Amanita has been invited to speak at the European Parliament, works with the World Health Organisation and travels the world to advocate for trans rights.

“What keeps me going is the love that I have for my community. After all the pain that I have been through, how could I not develop huge amounts of empathy for other people like me? And having all the skills I have built up in time, among other things thanks to my privileges, how could I sit and do nothing while my sisters, brothers and siblings keep dying in the streets?”

— Amanita Calderón-Cifuentes


Feliciano advocates for LGTBIQ+ health rights through NGO Acción Solidaria.

Feliciano Reyna transformed personal tragedy into a crusade for healthcare and human rights in Venezuela. After losing his partner to AIDS, Feliciano founded Acción Solidaria in 1995 to provide medication and treatment for HIV/AIDS amidst Venezuela’s escalating crisis. His work expanded into a network of organisations advocating for the rights of those with chronic health conditions. Despite threats and harassment, Feliciano remained in Venezuela, working tirelessly to highlight the humanitarian emergency and engage with international human rights mechanisms. His efforts were pivotal in establishing the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission in Venezuela.

“We have no choice but to enter the political conflict (in Venezuela), to seek dialogue, to advocate for the mobilisation of resources, to open spaces of alignment because if not, it is the people who suffer.”

— Feliciano Reyna


Karla Avelar founded COMCAVIS TRANS, an NGO in El Salvador working for LGTBIQ+ rights.

Karla Avelar has dedicated her life to defending the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons, those affected by HIV, migrants, and other vulnerable groups in El Salvador. Born into a deeply conservative family, Karla faced extreme violence and discrimination from a young age. Despite being shot multiple times and enduring severe abuse, she became a pioneering activist. She founded ASPIDH and COMCAVIS TRANS to support trans women and those with HIV. Karla’s bravery led her to publicly disclose her HIV status and fight for healthcare for LGBTIQ+ persons, even while facing ongoing threats and political persecution. Her advocacy has reached international platforms, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“We need to mobilise ourselves, denounce violations, never be silent again. Silence is forbidden.”

— Karla Avelar

As HURIDOCS, we stand firmly with justice and equality, by supporting human rights defenders in the LGBTIQ+ community. We are committed to providing documentation technology and strategic support to amplify their efforts and ensure their voices are heard in the fight for a more equal world. Find out how you can support our mission!

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