The only national charity offering support to transgender children in the UK has been honoured at the European Diversity Awards.
Mermaids, which helps gender-questioning young people and their families, has been named Charity of The Year.
It works at a local, regional and national level to improve outcomes for trans and questioning children, and alongside government bodies.
Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids, slammed the headline - ‘Fury at BBC over sex change show for six-year-olds’ - as “horrific”.
She told The Huffington Post UK: “I would like to see more education around trans issues across the board. Maybe then we will see less hatred and prejudice, and can begin to celebrate the fact that everyone is different.”
At the ceremony, writer and broadcaster Vicky Beeching also received a diversity award for her LGBT rights campaigning.
Beeching, a gay Christian who came out in 2014, won the Inspirational Role Model of the Year award.
‘Watchdog’ presenter, Nikki Fox, won the Journalist of the Year award. Fox was born with muscular dystrophy and has used her profile to raise awareness of disability issues.
Last year she presented a major documentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, ‘Beyond Disability: The Adventures of a Blue Badger’.
There was also special recognition for disability campaigner Jonathan Andrews who has been a leading advocate for people with autism. He won the Campaigner of the Year Award which recognises an individual’s commitment to a particular cause.
The awards also saw recognition for a number companies and business leaders.
Philip Bourchier O’Ferrall, senior vice president of Viacom, was named Diversity Champion of the Year.
O’Ferrall was rewarded for promoting equality and diversity in the mainstream media. Viacom covers Channel 5, MTV and Nickelodeon.
Accenture was named Company of the Year for ‘outstanding commitment’ to actively employing a diverse workforce and for ‘infusing diversity throughout every strand of the business’.
Special recognition was also given to the Royal Air Force who secured the Diversity Team of the Year honour.
Established in 2010, the European Diversity Awards celebrate people and organisations with a track record in promoting equality and diversity and are judged by an expert panel led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, equalities campaigner Linda Riley and former Member of the European Parliament, Lord Michael Cashman.
Linda Riley, who founded the European Diversity Awards, paid tribute to the winners, saying they should “rightly feel proud because in their own way they have contributed to making Europe a more tolerant, diverse and just society”.
She added: “And in the year of Brexit, with all the uncertainty about the future that brings, these awards are more important than ever.”
Awards host Sophie Ward said: “It was a privilege to present the awards to so many deserving individuals.
The awards recognise excellence in the areas of gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, race, culture and religion across Europe.
They are unique in recognising all aspects of diversity across the whole of Europe and celebrate the best across both the corporate and campaigning aspects of diversity.”