2014 European Tolerance Award handed over in Sofia, Bulgaria

Cologne/Sofia. KulturForum Europa (KFE) awarded Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the United States of America in Sofia, Bulgaria, Mr. Bryan Dalton and his husband, Anandaroopa, the European Tolerance Award in 2014. They both had been nominated for their work in building cultural bridges between the U.S., Europe and Asia; and especially, for their role as ambassadors to promote LGBT rights as human rights. Both are fine examples of cultural ambassadors, removing a historical cultural barrier by promoting mutual understanding, acceptance and tolerance.

During a reception in the residency of H.E. Marcie B. Ries, US-Ambassador to Bulgaria, certificate and medal of honor of European Culture Award were given to the laureates by Dieter Topp. He had flown in to Sofia for this very special reason. " Tonight Dieter is here as President of KulturForum Europa, whose mission is to promote tolerance in the field of art and cultural, especially in former Easter European countries. KFE was found by former Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher, and tonight he brought a surprise,..." announced the Ambassador.

The founders had envisioned the European Tolerance Award as a prestigious distinction that will incite/increase our efforts to explain clearly that tolerance is an ideal model for the peaceful co-existence of different peoples. It is only through the prism of tolerance that various hues are looked upon as potential and strength, upon which they might be useful to resolve our social problems.

Some of our past recipients of the European Tolerance Award include American playwright and Purlitzer Prize Winner Doug Wright for “I Am My Own Wife” about the life of a transgender person who survived the Nazi and Communist regimes. Theater Bremen and composer Ludger Vollmer from Germany have been awarded for the opera "Against the Wall", a positive overall concept to the question of the identity of young German-Turkish person in the context of traditional Turkish families. Mr. Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon from Thailand for his role as a mediator between different ethnic groups and his special engagement with minorities and children with special needs.

French actor Georges du Fresne got the award for the lead in the movie "Ma Vie en Rose" ("My Life In Pink"), the story of Ludovic, a little girl born in a little boy's body: For him, nothing is more natural than to change his gender. In today's world, popular culture has reflected a change in society where, as Belgian director Alain Berliner puts it, "the gender cards are being re-dealt." But even as boundaries blur, and more difference is becoming acceptable and even celebrated, particularly in popular culture, the pitfalls of sexual identity for the individual -- and for children in particular -- are still deep.

German Bulgarian Stage director and author Vladimir Danovsky was granted for the oeuvre “The Rescue”, an opera dedicated to the people who risked their lives to save thousands of Bulgarian Jews in 1943. The piece, which was performed in a workshop for young people, tells the story of the rescue of 50,000 Jews in Bulgaria during the Second World War, very impressive in the form of a dramatic passion. This music theater project was not only dedicated to all the brave men and women being involved in the rescue of Bulgarian Jews, it also includes the prompt to take personal commitment to humanity and acceptance of minorities in Europe of today.

As part of the 2013 gala "Artists Against AIDS" Berliner AIDS Hilfe eV, KFE honored the actress, singer and entertainer Romy Haag honored with the European Tolerance Award. Ulla Schmidt, Vice President of the German Bundestag and former Federal Minister of Health, gave the laudatory speech. "Romy Haag speaks bluntly and honestly about stereotypes about herself and her live as transsexual, always encouraging sexual minorities, particularly the Transgender, still very much in the shadow of public, and calls the necessary normality from the stage for everyday life", clarified Bundestag Vice President Ulla Schmidt in the speech. Romy Haag has made as an artist in the European and Euro-international relationship deserves to reduce social and cultural barriers in interpersonal relationships, to build trust and to put out in the spirit of the European idea, a positive signal in the EU and elsewhere, said KFE President Dieter Topp at the presentation in Berlin.

Romy Haag's success on the stage as the continuous and strong efforts of Bryan Dalton and husband Anandaroopa are also the story of a decades-long ongoing struggle against intolerance and prejudice, according to the unanimous opinion of Ulla Schmidt and Dieter Topp.

"Bryan and Anandaroopa both will join this esteemed group of awardees for their contribution to the development of human rights and intercultural dialogue, spanning many years and continents: from Vietnam, to Romania, to India, and now in Bulgaria. Their personal and professional support of LGBT individuals and/or organizations in these countries - even ahead of U.S. foreign policy in supporting LGBT minorities – proves their deep-rooted dedication to a world without prejudice and discrimination", was written in the certificate. "Your support and development of LGBT groups in all these countries help to empower these peoples, not only of different sexual orientation and gender, but also of different caste, class, and ethnicities, with an enduring message of peace, friendship and understanding", explained KFE President Dieter Topp to the winners and finished by handing over the award in Sofia as a positive signal to the young EU country Bulgaria and a sign of support for some Bulgarian cities and their efforts concerning Cultural Capital of Europe.

Photo by Plamen Ivanov