ABOUT OUTRIGHT ACTION INTERNATIONAL
Every day, the human rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people around the world are abused in ways that shock the conscience. The stories of the struggles and resilience often remain invisible – or willfully ignored – by those with the power to make change. Since 1990, OutRight Action International has worked alongside LGBTIQ activists and organizations, diplomats and policymakers, and other key partners to advance community-focused solutions to create lasting legal and social transformation. Together, we combat the systemic violence, persecution and discrimination that LGBTIQ people face around the world.
From our headquarters in New York and with staff in eight countries, OutRight advances our mission of ensuring human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere through three strategic program areas:
Advocacy: OutRight is the only global LGBTIQ organization with consultative status and a permanent presence at the United Nations Headquarters, where we advocate for human rights and equality for LGBTIQ people, serve as secretariat of the UN LGBTI Core Group and act as a watchdog on all 193 world governments.
Movement resourcing: OutRight invests heavily in partnerships with grassroots LGBTIQ communities and allies around the world, because the presence and strength of LGBTIQ organizations and activists is the single greatest factor that produces cultural, social, and legal change. We provide technical assistance, training and funding, including over 1.2 million USD to groups in more than 65 countries in the last year alone.
Research: OutRight’s research program provides an overview of global threats and opportunities confronting LGBTIQ communities. We have published hundreds of reports and briefing papers on urgent and relevant topics including so-called “conversion therapy,” legal registration for LGBTIQ civil society, and the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people globally.
OutRight’s work is focused where we can make the biggest difference. In addition to our work at the United Nations, we push for change in four regions in the Global South: Asia and the Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. We concentrate where we see the greatest potential for significant improvement or threat; possibility for a ripple effect due to the country’s relationships and reputation; and opportunity for international intervention and influence. Throughout our work, we advocate for LGBTIQ rights with a commitment to intersectionality and a fierce feminist lens, and we prioritize and amplify the needs of the most marginalized within the global LGBTIQ community.
In addition, OutRight is one of two founding civil society advisors for the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality, a World Economic Forum Lighthouse Project, and partners with dozens of leading companies to advocate for LGBTIQ human rights.
LGBTIQ RIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD
The journey for full rights and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people has far to go everywhere in the world. Too many governments deprive LGBTIQ people of full equality before the law and too many in our society reject and persecute them:
- Fewer than half of the United Nations 193 Member States ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- At least 67 countries still have national laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults; 11 of these have laws imposing the death penalty.
- 13 countries have laws explicitly criminalizing transgender people and an additional 37 criminalize trans people through vagrancy, prostitution, morality, public nuisance, or other laws.
- In 30 countries, not a single LGBTIQ organization exists to serve or advocate for our communities.
- Only five countries explicitly ban abusive sexual orientation and gender identity change practices, or so-called “conversion therapy.”
- LGBTIQ people fare poorly on a wide range of social and economic indicators compared with the general population, with higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, barriers to competent health care and joblessness.
- A concerted global backlash is on the rise, scapegoating LGBTIQ people as a threat to “traditional values” and putting progress at risk.
- The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated underlying and systemic disparities and inequalities which disproportionately impact the LGBTIQ community and LGBTIQ people are often left out or excluded from traditional relief and recovery efforts.
Due to the tireless efforts of LGBTIQ activists, advocates, progressive policy makers, allies and supporters around the world, the movement for LGBTIQ rights has witnessed tremendous progress in recent years and there is great potential to accelerate law, policy and social change globally:
- 15 countries have decriminalized homosexuality in the last ten years, including India, whose Supreme Court unanimously overturned its sodomy law in 2018, impacting more than one billion people.
- 29 countries have codified marriage equality at the national level, including 16 in the last five years.
- There are now organizations fighting for LGBTIQ rights in the majority of the countries on the planet (164 out of 194).
- In 2012, Argentina passed the most pioneering gender identity recognition law in the world, permitting transgender people to self-determine their gender. And in 2019, the World Health Organization removed being transgender as a “mental disorder” from its international classification of diseases.
- In 2015, Malta passed groundbreaking legislation that protects intersex infants and children from non-consensual medical interventions.
- In 2020, Germany became the fifth country to ban so-called “conversion therapy.”
For an overview of the situation for LGBTIQ people in different countries, see our "at a glance" tool.
For 30 years, OutRight Action International has documented, defended, and advanced human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people around the world. Learn more about our history and see below for examples of our impact:
Legal & Advocacy Wins:
- OutRight has been at the forefront of many important international cases, including the first successful sexual orientation asylum case in the US in 1993 after documenting more than 1,200 murders of LGBT people in Brazil (we also persuaded the US State Department to include persecution of LGBT people in its annual country reports on human rights).
- In 2012, OutRight filed a pivotal amicus brief in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision that secured LGBTIQ parental rights across the Americas.
- And in the Philippines, OutRight co-coordinated the Quezon City “Gender Fair Ordinance,” a pioneering non-discrimination municipal law established in 2014 that protects LGBTIQ people in the largest city in the country and now serves as a model to other cities.
- United Nations documentation about LGBTIQ rights linked to our work has been cited in every major court case about LGBTI rights from Zimbabwe to Guyana to India, where the Supreme Court quoted OutRight in its seminal 2018 decision decriminalizing homosexuality.
- In 2008, OutRight helped found and now serves as secretariat of the UN LGBTI Core Group, a group of 33 Member States collaborating to advance LGBTIQ equality. OutRight helped draft and pass the only resolutions in the UN system specifically uplifting LGBT rights; the only reference to ‘sexual orientation’ from the UN Security Council; and advocated for the creation of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity position, who monitors the health of LGBTIQ communities and human rights abuses globally.
Supporting LGBTIQ Organizations & Activists:
OutRight has helped incubate, launch and register dozens of emerging LGBTIQ organizations, including Iraq’s first and only LGBTIQ organization, regional LGBTIQ groups in the Caribbean and South East Asia, and Jamaica’s first trans organization.
- OutRight has also provided in-depth training to and connected thousands of LGBTIQ activists through our UN fellowship programs, annual UN Advocacy Week, and regional field trainings, including advocates leading the court cases to decriminalize homosexuality in Kenya and Singapore and the fight for marriage equality in Taiwan.
- OutRight has raised and distributed thousands of dollars to support to the LGBTIQ community in times of emergency including campaigns in Tanzania, Chechnya, Lebanon, and our COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund, which has raised more than $4M to support LGBTIQ people suffering in the wake of the pandemic.
- OutRight sponsored the first-ever Global Black Pride in 2020 and prioritizes supporting and amplifying the voices and work of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) LGBTIQ activists around the world.
Research & Education:
OutRight has produced hundreds of reports and briefing papers on urgent and relevant topics including so-called “conversion therapy,” digital censorship, legal registration for LGBTIQ civil society, and the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people globally. View a comprehensive archive of our research here.
- OutRight has elevated the visibility of global LGBTIQ issues through significant exposure in both queer and mainstream media, including BBC, NBC, CNN, The Lancet, The Advocate, Thomson Reuters’ Openly, Pod Save the World, and many others.
- Over the past year, OutRight hosted dozens of educational panels, workshops and briefings through our OutTalks webinar series; produced dozens of interviews with activists and allies through our OutRight TV video and podcast series; and sponsored the first virtual OutSummit LGBTIQ human rights conference, which brought together more than 1600 people from 100+ countries for 30+ keynotes and sessions in December 2020.