2023 UC Young New Zealander of the Year announced
31 March 2023
Shaneel Lal was named 2023 Te Mātātahi o te Tau | University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year for leading the way to a more inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.
Shaneel’s life story as a survivor of conversion therapy has fuelled their passion to create positive change for the LGBTQIA+ community. As the founder of the Conversion Therapy Action Group, they have been leading the change to end conversion therapy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
As a result, the New Zealand government passed legislation to ban this practice in 2022. Shaneel continues to advocate for greater protections for the LGBTQIA+ community, championing reforms to hate-speech laws and blood donation policies to ensure that queer people are not discriminated against.
“At the University of Canterbury, we value people and their differences and are committed to empowering young New Zealanders across Aotearoa to respond to complex challenges,” says UC Amokapua | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Engagement Brett Berquist who presented the award to Shaneel.
“I would like to congratulate Shaneel on winning this year’s Young New Zealander of the Year Award and for their contribution to ending conversion therapy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“I would also like to acknowledge all the semi-finalists and finalists of this year’s awards for their exceptional mahi in making the world a better place.”
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