Australia Awards Alumni Jack Ganbaatar: A driver for LGBTQIA+ rights in Mongolia

Pride Month is celebrated internationally, one of the most significant, annual events for the LGBTQIA+ community. A celebration which dedicates and commemorates progress towards inclusivity, equality, and diversity. Also, an opportunity to continue advocating equal rights for all.

Dorjjanstan (Jack) Ganbaatar is an Australia Awards Alumni 2019, health professional, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist from Mongolia. Jack completed his Master’s in Public Health at the University of Melbourne.

Jack started his activism at 19, his identity a critical driver for passionately creating a safe space, equity, and better health access for the LGBTQIA+ community. Over the years, he held various professional roles focussing on LGBTQIA+ rights; serving as a National Consultant for the United Nations; and a researcher, university lecturer, and Health Programme Manager at the LGBT Centre, Mongolia’s first organisation dedicated to LGBTQIA+ human rights.

In 2018, while working at the LGBT Centre, Jack met Australian volunteers who encouraged him to apply for the scholarship and being selected as an Australia Awards Scholar was a surreal moment. “It was one of the most memorable moments in my life. My dream became a reality.”

Melbourne became a second home for Jack, filled with friendship, fun, and love, and facing the strictest lockdown during COVID-19. During the pandemic, Jack continued his academic and cultural experience at home, enjoying coffee, exploring the city when restrictions were eased, and even travelling to Tasmania to visit another Mongolian Australia Awards Scholar.

As an Australia Awards Scholar, Jack’s main accomplishment was establishing a strong rapport with his supervisor, resulting in the publication of his research. His research focuses on young queer Mongolians’ identities and experiences through visual methods, using photography and community-based participatory approaches, seeking to create a network providing accessible services to everyone.

Jack encourages those interested in Australia Awards to attend events hosted at their respective Australian Embassies to better understand the opportunity. He appreciates the scholarship’s alumni network, connecting him with other professionals.

Jack’s dedication and passion for his work is remarkable. As we celebrate Pride Month and reflect on our progress, we must also remember that much work still needs to be done. Discrimination, violence, and inequality are still prevalent, and the fight for the rights and equity of all people, regardless of who they choose to love, must continue.