Meet OutRight's 2018 Religion Fellows

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OutRight is excited to announce that we have recruited three activists to engage in our new, year-long, immersive Religion Fellowship Program, out of the over 560 applications received. The Fellowship has been made possible by support from the Global Faith and Equality Fund of the Horizons Foundation and is aimed to defend LGBTI people from the impact of religiously motivated violence and discrimination. The fellows are from Africa and the Caribbean, two regions that have been notably impacted by religiously based homophobia and transphobia.

The program invests in LGBTI movement building across Africa and the Caribbean by training activists to harness the international system for promoting human rights for LGBTIQ people. The program provides direct experience at UN advocacy and expands the networks across the UN system. Furthermore, it aims to increase visibility and engagement of LGBTI human rights defenders from Africa and the Caribbean within high-level UN forums in New York.

The activists will participate in five UN convenings in New York over the coming 12 months; the Commission on the Status of Women, the High-Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals, UN General Assembly High Level week, OutRight’s annual Week of UN Advocacy and OutRight’s OutSummit Conference.

Keep a watch out for in depth interviews in the following weeks, and in the meantime, meet our three new Religion Fellows:

Xeenarh Mohammed is a lawyer, a technologist, and a queer, feminist, holistic security trainer who provides trainings and support for non-profit organizations in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. Xeenarh has spent over 8 years working with nonprofits and has previously served as a legal counsel to Nasarawa State ministry of Justice, project officer for Love Nigeria, Gender democracy officer at Heinrich Boll Stiftung, and digital integrity fellow for Open Technology fund. They currently run ReSista Camp, a space for healing, networking and celebration for minority communities. Their passion lies in protecting the rights of LGBTQI folks both online and offline, and providing sustainable and healthy spaces for other activists. Xeenarh is active in women’s issues in Nigeria and works in the intersection of activism, advocacy, protection of queer and minority rights.

Pronouns: They/Them

Neish McLean is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of TransWave Jamaica as well as the HIV Coordinator and Project Manager at Equality for All Foundation Jamaica Ltd (J-FLAG). He oversees TransWave Jamaica's advocacy initiatives that are aimed at promoting transgender health and well-being. He holds BSc in Psychology which he uses to help him in his work as a human rights defender while using his lived reality as a man of trans experience to inform his advocacy.

Pronouns: He/Him

Kim Windvogel is a non-binary, 26-year-old writer, sexual-, and gender identity educator, and graduate from the University of Cape Town. They spent most of their years at university trying to understand racial and gender dynamics and started writing essays and poetry with a strong focus on sexual, racial and gender identity in a country that does not encourage critical thinking regarding these urgent themes under the pseudonym Blazing Non-Binary. Kim has been a frequent panelist on various public talks and interviews regarding the state of women, sexuality, feminist internet principles, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the importance of gender representation, and sustainable sanitation for Right2Know, Department of Water and Sanitation (Johannesburg), Bush Radio and The Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians.

Pronouns: They/Them

Over the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in the religious right’s mobilization at the United Nations. Just as an example, we have seen hate group C-Fam repeatedly target OutRight in their communications, calling us powerful, radical homosexuals. This would be amusing, had they not been invited to the official US delegation at the Commission on the Status of Women last year. They and others like them invest in portraying “the West” and the Global South as two poles with opposite views on LGBTIQ rights. By strengthening the presence and the voice of African and Caribbean activists at the UN, we will counter their narrative and push for the recognition of human rights for all.