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Queen's Bday honour for lgbti advocate

Mon 1 Jun 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Garth Browning Longtime lgbti and wider community volunteer and advocate Garth Browning is being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health and the community. The New Plymouth resident is among those announced as recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours this morning. Among the many achievements listed in his citation are initiating a physical presence at Big Gay Out events to educate people about HIV and Hepatitis C. He has also been involved with HIV support and advocacy group Body Positive, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, and is a founding member and supporter of lgbti youth support group Rainbow Taranaki. Browning was assistant manager of the Auckland Drug Information Outreach Trust from 2000 to 2003 and is currently the New Plymouth coordinator of the Needle Exchange Services Trust. Browning tells he doesn’t really see it as a personal honour, but more an acknowledgement of a team effort with a remarkable group of people and organisations that have supported each other. “Sadly a lot of these groups are no more due to contract cuts, eg Likeminds, Problem Gambling NZ, and of course Relationships Aotearoa,” he says. “This award also reflects back to the people I work with dealing with addiction issues. These are people who invariably are caught in a health issue that they have lost control of. They are met with discrimination, family rejection and harassment by police. Browning says anyone who stops and puts some thought into it would realize that it not a life anyone would choose. “The people caught in this that I work with are those who I am most proud of, they survive against serious odds. “I am also very proud to have worked with the people and agencies I have. One man in particular stands out here in Taranaki, Mr Gordon Hudson who has been the heart and soul of Likeminds here for many years, a remarkable man. “The challenges we still face are huge but at the heart of those is to stop judging others and start looking at ourselves,” Browning says. “We are presently seeing the destruction of our support services and combined with the threat of the TPPA I despair for the kids coming through. We are being led on a very destructive path in terms of community and society in general and we need to stand up and be loud about this.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 1st June 2015 - 8:11am

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