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ASIA - Oct 19, 2003

The 4th annual Utopia Awards, Asia's leading gay human rights celebration, are to be handed out in a festive evening on Friday, 14 November, at Bangkok's new Roxy Bar & Club.

Utopia Awards are presented each year to men and women whose pioneering work and lives have forwarded the cause of dignity and a better life for members of the region's gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered communities.

Previous awardees have included Thai AIDS activist Natee Teerarojjanapongs and film director Yongyuth Thongkongtoon; Indonesian and Singaporean activists Dede Oetomo and Alex Au; the Pink Triangle Foundation from Malaysia; and ProGay Philippines.

Four individuals have been selected for recognition in 2003 and will be attending the public ceremony to receive their awards:

Senator Jon Ungpakorn (Thailand) - for his pioneering chairmanship of the Access Foundation and his untiring use of his public position as an elected member of the Thai Senate to promote the political and public health rights of all Thai living with HIV/AIDS.

Wang Ping (Taiwan) - for her persistence in keeping gay and lesbian rights at the forefront of public debate in Taiwan and for her inspiring leadership of Taiwan's premier women's and GLBT rights organization.

Chung To (Hong Kong), for his leadership of the Chi Heng Foundation, a leading gay rights advocacy group in Hong Kong, and for his pioneering role in HIV/AIDS outreach programs in China.

Parinya Jaroenphon (Thailand), whose inspiring story is to be told in the forthcoming film "Beautiful Boxer", for her exceptional courage and outspokenness for transgendered and gay people in Thailand.

The Awards are open to the public, with cocktails from 8pm and the ceremony commencing at 9pm. Roxy Bar & Club is located in Silom Soi 4, the epicenter of Bangkok's famous Night Bazaar and entertainment district.

The ceremony is timed to kick off the festive Bangkok Pride weekend, when hundreds of thousands of gays, lesbians, friends and onlookers attend the annual parade and parties celebrating Thailand's diversity and tolerance.

This 4th annual Utopia Awards are presented by Utopia, the first and largest gay Internet portal in Asia, and co-sponsored by Roxy Bar & Club and Utopia Tours.

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