Shaneel Lal awarded Young New Zealander of the Year

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LGBTQIA_+ activist Shaneel Lal was awarded Young New Zealander of the Year a week after leading a protest against anti-trans campaigner Posie Parker in Auckland.

Shaneel Lal is the first transgender person to win a New Zealander of the Year award. The founder of the Conversion Therapy Action Group, Shaneel underwent conversion therapy as a child in Fiji. At the age of 14, they moved to New Zealand to escape constant attempts to change their sexuality and gender identity.

Shaneel received the Young New Zealander of the Year award on the eve of Transgender Day of Visibility.

Conversion therapy

Shaneel Lal began their campaign against conversion therapy after a church leader first offered to ‘pray their gay away’, then wished hell on them.

A speech they made at the 2019 New Zealand Youth Parliament received a standing ovation. But it also led to online abuse. Shaneel consequently founded the Conversion Therapy Action Group. As a result of the group’s advocacy and activism, New Zealand passed the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill in 2022.

During the debate on the bill, Shaneel publicly announced they did not want to see the eight parliamentarians who voted against the bill at future Pride events. They later defended wanting to exclude those people from the inclusive event.

“Pride is a celebration of queer people, not a celebration of people who want to erase queer people. Pride was born out of the need for a safe and accepting place for queer people – people who want queer people to be tortured have no place at pride.”

That deserves a flag or two. 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at

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