Our Story


OutRight Action International was founded in 1990 by activist Julie Dorf, with considerable involvement from other activists, like Russian author, journalist and activist Masha Gessen. Initially called the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the organizations aimed to eradicate the persecution, inequality and violence lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people face around the world.

In the early years, the organization focused on Russia, including advocating for decriminalization of same-sex relations (achieved in 1993), campaigning for an end to psychiatric hospitalization of LGBTIQ people, as well as working to bring in anti-retroviral medication and condoms into the territory of Russia, where HIV/AIDS was - and continues to be - stigmatized, and access to prevention or treatment was non-existent.

The geographic focus of the organization swiftly shifted to working to promote the human rights of LGBTIQ people worldwide. In 2010 OutRight was granted consultative status by the Economic and Social Council of the UN, giving the organization access to advocate for LGBTIQ equality at the UN, to participate in relevant proceedings, deliver statements, and bring LGBTIQ activists from around the world face-to-face with international policy makers.

In 2015 we changed our name to OutRight Action International, or OutRight for short, to reflect the diversity of the communities and people we serve.

OutRight advances human rights and opportunities for LGBTIQ people around the world by developing partnerships at global, regional and national levels to build capacity, document human rights violations, advocate for inclusion and equality, and hold leaders accountable for protecting the rights and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people everywhere. We empower people on the front lines, hold leaders accountable at the United Nations and regional human rights monitoring bodies, and measure our impact through positive change in people’s lives.

When we began the fight for human dignity for LGBTIQ people, the cause did not have the visibility it has today. Nor had our community taken the strides toward equality and recognition we are seeing in many countries. But progress is uneven and this reality forms the core of our struggle. We strive for a world in which LGBTIQ individuals can live with dignity, and reach their full potential, wherever they are.