OutRight Now: Amazed and Concerned

Dear Friend,

For the last 10 days, we at OutRight have hosted 39 LGBTIQ rights advocates from every region of the world for meetings with more than 25 governments and four UN agencies in and around the United Nations.

The advocates held meetings with the governments of Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, the European Union, Latvia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others.

Speaking to government officials, the advocates described the pressing concerns they face on a daily basis and sought them as allies in their work to overturn criminalizing laws, to stop discrimination and to gain access to appropriate health care and employment, among other concerns.

Their stories were incredibly powerful.

At a special Human Rights Day panel at the UN that OutRight co-organized with the UN’s Core Group, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, the celebrated activist, was asked how LGBTIQ Ugandans go about their ordinary lives in the face of hostility.

“It’s very difficult,” she said, “but you have to find ways, strategies to meet one another and we do find ways - sometimes in secret or through social media.”

Then, she added a chilling afterthought:

“Of course, very many people are living in the closet because of fear—fear of prosecution, intimidation, violence. I myself don’t walk down the street because I have been beaten.”

Following their meetings with governments, the advocates participated in a day-long conference we organized, “OutSummit,” that drew many veterans of the movement globally. Read about it in the Washington Blade.

Veteran social justice activist and academic Charlotte Bunch, at an OutSummit session celebrating 25 years of global activism, said:

“After 45 years of activism and given the power of the closet to deprive people of jobs and livelihoods, I am truly amazed at where we are today. That said, I am concerned about the growing gap worldwide—by those who are left behind, who face violence. We must focus on them.”

I believe connecting activists around the world has a very real impact on our work to protect human rights and fundamental dignity. Of course, there is much more to do to make that a reality for all.

With warm regards,
Jessica Stern
Executive Director
OutRight Action International