These awards are for “people who are not silent” – says SKAMP, the winners of the first equality and diversity awards

On the 20th of February the first National Equality and Diversity Awards 2013 took place at the State Small Theatre of Vilnius.

Viktoras Diawara, a member of the band SKAMP, which was awarded for the openness to the multiculturality, stated: “We are living in a democratic state, where freedom of speech is sometimes misused… I often hear – you missed a chance to be silent. Today we see here many people who are just like me – people who are not silent!”. Vilius Alesius, also a member of SKAMP, commented on today’s situation in Lithuania: “I have to fight for my freedom in a free country”. Dainius Pūras, a psychiatrist who got an award for the Insights of the Year also shared his thoughts with the guests of the ceremony: “There is a need for more of us because healing of phobias is a difficult process”.

Other organizations and people awarded during the ceremony were the following: Victory of the Year (for a defended citizens’ freedom of assembly) – Vytautas Mizaras, Human Rights Advocate of the Year (for representation of the most vulnerable groups) – Diana Gumbrevičiūtė-Kuzminskienė, Citizen of the year (for dispersion of ideas about gender equality) – Donatas Paulauskas, Journalist of the year (for merits of publicizing LGBT topics) – Eglė Digrytė, Business company of the year (for diversity cherished in the company staff) – RIMI, Dialogue of the year (for strengthening the dialogue between generations) – Monika Jakimavičienė, Photography of the year (for publicizing religious diversity) – Ieva Budzeikaitė. The Award for lifetime work in fostering tolerance was given for Halina Kobeckaitė.

Awards were presented by The Ambassador of France in Lithuania Maryse Berniau; The member of European Parliament Vilija Blinkevičiūtė; The Viceminister of Justice Paulius Griciūnas; a representative of international non-governmental organization Amnesty International Helle Jacobsen; Project Manager of the Centre for Equality Advancement Margarita Jankauskaitė; Lithiuanian Jewish Community Chairperson Faina Kukliansky, The Head of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office Arminas Lydeka, The Chairman of the Lithuanian Journalists’ Union Dainius Radzevičius, The Head of Lithuanian Center for Human Rights Birutė Sabatauskaitė and Children’s Rights Ombudswoman and Equal Opportunities Ombudswoman Edita Žiobienė.

People proposing the awards had a possibility to win a hot air balloon flight – and it was Erika Straigytė, project coordinator at Marija and Jurgis Šlapeliai museum, who won this prize.

During the ceremony the winners of students’ short movies festival “Open your eyes, see and create!“ were honored too. Ovidijus Pamedytis and Laukuva gymnasium students were awarded for their film “Taunts”, Vilnius Balsiai school students got a prize for a film “Not an obstacle”. The main prize went to Titas Mačiulis for his short film “Tolerance”.

The evening was hosted by Dominykas Vaitiekūnas. The participants were entertained by a French piano-player Nicolas Stavy and musicians Sasha Song and Monika Linkytė.

The ceremony was organized with a support from European Commission program “Progress” and the French Embassy.

National Equality and Diversity Awards stem from a joint initiative of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Office and the National Equality and Diversity Forum. They are intended to motivate people, organizations, business companies and institutions to spread equality and diversity in Lithuania.