OutRight News: Second Edition



Welcome to the second edition of OutRight’s e-newsletter highlighting our programmatic work around the world. This newsletter will provide an insight into our initiatives and work at the national, regional, and international level. We hope that this newsletter will increase understanding about OutRight’s programs while shedding light on advocacy efforts undertaken by OutRight and our partners.


OutRight recently launched our latest report titled, Activism and Resilience: LGBTQ Progress in the Arabic-speaking States in the Middle East and North Africa Region, a joint research initiative with the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality. We set out to explore the activism and the progress in a region from which we too often only hear about negative developments for LGBTQ people.

The report explains how activism in the region leads to progress on LGBTQ issues, and how challenges are met with the resilience of the movement. It looks into the country situation in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia and finds that while the legal and social contexts differ across the four countries, there are commonalities in the strategies activists have used to respond to challenges. The report provides evidence that LGBTQ rights in the region can be supported through a multi-pronged approach with local LGBTQ organizations, coalition-building, feminist organizing and artistic production at the forefront. A conclusion is that progress cannot be measured solely based on legislation, and therefore advocating for legal reform alone is not enough.

You can read the executive summary and full report here.



In the second half of last year, OutRight was asked to support the the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines to improve their promotion and protect the rights of the LGBT community. The Commission is tasked with mainstreaming the promotion and protection of the rights of women, but LGBT people are also part of its mandate.

Ging Cristobal, OutRight’s staff member in the Philippines, led training sessions for 16 regional offices and an additional 19 government agencies.

Everyone in the training committed to training colleagues, network with the LGBTIQ community in their areas, and mainstream LGBTIQ-inclusion in their activities.

The regional offices of the Commission on Human Rights and the participating government service providers were also required to come up with action plans in relation to advancing the rights of persons with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

Participants at a training in the Philippines (Photo: OutRight, Ging Cristobal)
Participants at a training in the Philippines (Photo: OutRight, Ging Cristobal)



OutRight just launched a two-year initiative to combat gender-based violence in the Caribbean - focusing on Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua and Saint Lucia. The project brings together L(G)BT organizations and women’s organizations to improve policy, service delivery, and awareness around what drives gender-based violence.

Across the Caribbean, so-called “sodomy laws” or “buggery laws” remain on the books as a legacy of colonization. The criminalization of same-sex intimacy risk driving LGBT people away from services and social support which means that incidences of violence are often not reported. Additionally, lesbian and bisexual women as well as trans people are denied access to justice based on archaic laws that limit the definition of rape while also delegitimizing same-sex and queer intimacy. Building on experiences from OutRight’s work in Asia, the project will include research, advocacy, and trainings of service providers.

Participants at a training in the Philippines (Photo: OutRight, Ging Cristobal)
Caribbean attendees at the 2018 OutSummit, with Flávia Piovesan (middle), Commissioner for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights. Photo by Brad Hamilton Photography.



Sometimes our work touches on the worst of atrocities. Right now, the UN is considering a new treaty on Crimes Against Humanity. In September, OutRight in partnership with MADRE, CUNY School of Law, and the Center for Socio-Legal Research at the Universidad de Los Andes School of Law, launched a campaign calling on the international community to contribute to the drafting process of the new Crimes Against Humanity Treaty. The goal is for the treaty to include a definition of gender that ensures that the treaty can protect women and LGBTQ people.

Through mobilizing civil society, we reached over 600 organizational signatures from 103 countries around the world and submitted them to the International Law Commission. Alongside the civil society push, OutRight also supported UN member States to submit comments. We engaged at least 30 states which resulted in over 16 states sending in their comments on the definition of gender.

To learn more about the Crimes Against Humanity Treaty and how to stay involved, see the Toolkit for Advocates created by OutRight, MADRE, CUNY School of Law, and the Center for Socio-Legal Research at the Universidad de Los Andes School of Law.

Participants at a training in the Philippines (Photo: OutRight, Ging Cristobal)

OutRight’s Religion Fellowship

Participants at a training in the Philippines (Photo: OutRight, Ging Cristobal)
Religion Fellows Neish McLean, Xeenarh Mohammed and Kim Windvogel. Photo by Brad Hamilton Photography

OutRight’s year-long, immersive Religion Fellowship Program launched in 2018, and continues in 2019 with four new fellows. 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 program invests in LGBTI movement building across Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean by training activists to harness the international system for promoting human rights for LGBTIQ people. The fellows gain direct experience of international advocacy and contribute visibility and engagement of LGBTI human rights defenders within high-level UN forums in New York.

The new fellows are starting in March 2019, and are from Botswana, Brazil, Kenya and Belize. Read more about them here.

Religion Fellows Neish McLean, Xeenarh Mohammed and Kim Windvogel participated in five UN convenings in New York over the last 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.



OutRight launched our report, The Global State of LGBTIQ Organizing: The Right to Register in August, concluding that legal registration for LGBTIQ organizations is severely restricted globally and the result is that LGBTIQ human rights defenders work with fewer resources and face more danger. Since the release of the report, OutRight has received great feedback from funders and government agencies, who have said that the research from the report not only helps to fill a gap on data about LGBTIQ organizing, but that it also adds to the knowledge of trends impacting civil society, but with an LGBTIQ-specific lens. Not only has the information been informative for foundations and agencies but it has already had concrete impact. One government informed OutRight that while they would generally have been unable to support any unregistered organizations, after having read OutRight’s report and recognizing the challenges that LGBTIQ organizations face to register, they were able to make an exception and provide a grant to an unregistered organization.

To read the report please click here.

Participants at a training in the Philippines (Photo: OutRight, Ging Cristobal)



The Advocate: Middle Eastern LGBTQ Activism Produces Progress, Inspiration

The report, Activism and Resilience: LGBTQ Progress in the Arabic-Speaking States in the Middle East and North Africa Region, is a joint project of OutRight Action International and the Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality. Researched and written by Suraj Girijashanker, it focuses on Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia because they are sites of advancement, says OutRight executive director Jessica Stern. “We really wanted to highlight that LGBTI rights are making progress in the Middle East and North Africa,” Stern tells The Advocate.

OutRight Blog Post: Activism Crackdown in China

Since 2016, the Chinese government has been warning against 'western style activism' and cautioned against ’western political agenda‘. Public events like Speak Out (Chinese style Ted Talk), Pinkdot Xiamen, IDAHO (517 movement), and student organized events had been clamped down repeatedly over the last 2 years. Also, since July 2015, there has been a concerted effort by the Chinese government to detain human rights lawyers.

On Jan 9, 2019, the Guangzhou government released a statement on 'illegal organizations' that are banned in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province in Southern China. This is the 6th round of names released to the public. For the first time in China, two organizations working on LGBT issues were listed. No official reasons were given.


Send questions and comments to:

Maria Sjödin, msjodin@outrightinternational.org, +1 (917) 859-7555