United States President Barack Obama will receive the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s prestigious Chair Award this year. “This administration has gone to great lengths to make the U.S. more welcoming to the global LGBT community and has allowed individuals with HIV/AIDS to travel freely, “ says IGLTA Board Chair Dan Melesurgo. “We all know travel opens minds and changes perceptions. The actions of President Obama and his administration certainly have created a more positive experience for all of us.”
The award recipient is chosen by the leader of the IGLTA board of directors and presented to an individual or business that has made significant improvements to the landscape of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travel.
In 2009, Obama lifted a 22-year-old travel ban that prevented visitors and immigrants with HIV from entering the United States, saying that it “was rooted in fear rather than fact.” A year later the Department of State revised standards for gender designation on passports, making it easier for transgender people to travel. U.S. Customs and Border Protection eased entry into the United States by expanding the definition of family to include domestic partners in 2012 and to recognize children of same-sex parents regardless of adoption status in 2014.
The award will be presented as part of the opening keynote session 9 April at IGLTA’s 32nd Annual Global Convention in Los Angeles. Accepting the award on the president’s behalf is Aditi Hardikar, who serves as an Associate Director of Public Engagement in the Office of Public Engagement. In her role, she is the White House’s primary liaison to the LGBT community as well as the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“It’s an honor to accept this award on behalf President Obama for his leadership in helping eliminate barriers for the LGBT community around the world,” said Aditi Hardikar, White House Associate Director of Public Engagement. “The United States places great importance on the protection and promotion of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people, including LGBT persons globally.”