Maria Munir

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Maria Munir
Maria Munir.jpg
EducationBA (Hons) Politics with International Relations, University of York, 2016
OccupationPublic speaker/activist

Maria Munir (/ˈmɑːriə/ MAHR-ee-ə) is a public speaker and human rights defender who speaks out on a range of discrimination issues, including transgender rights and non-binary discrimination.[1] Munir campaigns to encourage governments to implement policies that do not discriminate against non-binary people.[2]


Non-binary rights[edit]

In April 2016, Munir came out as non-binary on live television at a question and answer session with former US President Barack Obama during his state visit to the United Kingdom. The decision to declare non-binary identity publicly gained media discussion of non-binary rights and Munir was interviewed on the subject by The Guardian, Channel 4, The Telegraph and others.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Munir campaigns to raise awareness of the meaning of identifying as non-binary, and campaigns for their rights. In a 2016 interview, Munir said: "At university I came across the idea of being non-binary, and straight away I knew that's me."[9]

Munir has campaigned for the UK Parliament to extend the Equality Act 2010 to non-binary individuals.[10]

Facial palsy[edit]

Munir was born with unilateral left-sided facial palsy.[2] They created a poster campaign highlighting the symptoms of facial palsy,[11] and worked with Fixers UK to broadcast a segment on the television program Calendar on ITV Tyne Tees about the effects of the condition,[12][13] and addressed a conference of the Royal Society of Medicine in October 2015, to an audience of paediatricians and other professionals.[14]

Political career[edit]

Munir has been an active member of the Liberal Democrats, standing as a council candidate in their home town of Watford in the May 2016 Borough Council election. They stood in the Vicarage ward, a Labour stronghold, coming fourth with 279 votes.[15] Munir campaigned for Sal Brinton's election as the Party Chair,[16] and co-wrote the Your Liberal Britain strategy for the Liberal Democrats in September 2017 with Elaine Bagshaw, Duncan Brack, Rory Freckleton, Lee Howgate, Scott Smith, and Stephen Tall.[17][18]


In 2016 Munir was shortlisted for the Christine Jackson award by the advocacy group Liberty (advocacy group) for their work highlighting the inequality which exists in UK law relating to non-binary people.[19][10] They were also named as one of 8 Girls' Champions as part of the BBC's 100 Women series.[20][21]

In October 2018 Munir was awarded La Médaille du Barreau by L’Ordre des Avocats de Paris, along with other human rights advocates at the Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018, symbolising their position as an honorary lawyer for their work.


  1. ^ "Blog". Maria Munir. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Challenging Obama Was My Greatest Challenge". HuffPost UK. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  3. ^ Munir, Maria (27 April 2016). "Why I came out as non-binary to Barack Obama". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  4. ^ Khomami, Nadia (24 April 2016). "I thought it's now or never, says student who came out as non-binary to Obama". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  5. ^ Channel 4 News (23 April 2016), Maria Munir on life in non-binary, retrieved 25 July 2018
  6. ^ "Transgender campaigner calls out Barack Obama on LGBTQ progress". The Independent. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Obama hears youth leaders' concerns about LGBT rights, Brexit at British town hall | The Star". Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  8. ^ Mullin, Gemma (23 April 2016). "Brave gender equality campaigner reveals deeply personal secret to Barack Obama". mirror. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  9. ^ Ailes, Emma (23 April 2016). "My moment with Barack Obama". BBC News. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  10. ^ a b Banks, Elliott (22 October 2016). "York student shortlisted for human rights award". Nouse. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Facial Palsy Awareness". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  12. ^ Fixers UK (6 June 2014), Fixers Facial Palsy Story on ITV News Calendar, June 2014, retrieved 21 May 2018
  13. ^ Fixers UK (23 June 2014), Fixers Facial Palsy Story on ITV News Tyne Tees, June 2014, retrieved 21 May 2018
  14. ^ "Patients and families as the new educators". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Watford Borough Ward 2016 results". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Supporters". Sal Brinton. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Writing our Vision Statement | Your Liberal Britain". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Liberal Britatin Your Vision for Liberal Britain" (PDF). Retrieved 15 January 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ sarahdaly (13 October 2016). "Human Rights Awards 2016: Shortlist". Liberty Human Rights. Archived from the original on 22 May 2018. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Maria Munir chosen as Girls' Champion for BBC's 100 Women". Liberal Democrat Voice. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  21. ^ "About". Maria Munir. 26 May 2014. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.