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Gay Times honour for York academic

Posted on 20 November 2017

At a star-studded event, Professor David Smith of York's Department of Chemistry was nominated for a Gay Times Honour in recognition of his advocacy as an LGBT+ scientist.

The Gay Times Honours Ceremony took place at the National Portrait Gallery in London

The event, hosted at the National Portrait Gallery, marked 50 years of the decriminalisation of homosexuality and recognised the organisations and individuals who have had a tremendous impact on what it means to live openly and freely as LGBT+ people in Britain today.

Professor Smith was nominated for the Gay Times Honour for Excellence in STEM. He is a rare example of an 'out' gay scientist, who has led extensive public work to raise the profile of this hidden area of diversity and support LGBT+ individuals working in STEM.

The Award for Excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) was named after Barbara Burford, who was born in Jamaica and moved to London at the age of seven. After studying medicine, she championed equality through initiatives with the NHS and was central to several breakthroughs in heart and lung transplant surgery. From a high-quality shortlist, the overall winner of the Barbara Burford Honour was Dr Rachael Padman, an astrophysicist from University of Cambridge. As a transgender scientist, she played a pioneering role as the first transgender Fellow of all-female Newnham College in Cambridge

Winners of other Gay Times Honours included Nicola Adams, for her contribution to sport and EastEnders for the representation of LGBT+ characters in the media. Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline was recognised for its role in community activism, while the European Convention of Human Rights was honoured as a vital piece of legislation for LGBT+ rights in the UK.

Professor Smith said: "It was a genuine honour to be nominated for a national award of this type and great fun to mingle with LGBT+ 'A-listers' at the awards event. Most importantly, it was very satisfying to see the contribution of those working in STEM recognised by the LGBT+ community. Science needs diverse individuals with varied approaches and ideas in order to solve challenging scientific problems. Hopefully, in the future, scientists will feel increasingly comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work, with science labs being diverse, safe spaces where all researchers can be happy and fulfilled."