OutRight Now: February 2022 Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

It has been less than 24 hours since Russia invaded Ukraine. We are of course concerned about the impact of war on all people in Ukraine and know in times of crisis, LGBTIQ people, who are often marginalized, face higher risks. Already, groups have reached out to us as they are setting up shelter for LGBTIQ people who have to flee for safer areas. If you want to help and stand in solidarity with Ukrainians, you can donate to OutRight’s fundraiser. We will channel funds to LGBTIQ groups in Ukraine, and for shelter and support in nearby countries.

In the meantime, OutRight’s important work is continuing with partners around the globe. From continuing to document and raise awareness about atrocious human rights abuses against LGBTIQ people in Afghanistan and finalizing a report documenting the lived experiences of LBTQ women in Iraq, to selecting Fellows for OutRight’s 2022 United Nations Religion Fellowship and issuing new grants from the COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund, these are but a few examples of the work OutRight and our partners are carrying out to accelerate change for LGBTIQ people worldwide.

Another example of our important work is combating harmful sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (SOGIE) change practices, sometimes referred to as “conversion therapy”. As noted in OutRight’s groundbreaking report, “Harmful Treatment: The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy,” SOGIE change practices are the discredited and discriminatory actions that target LGBTQ people and seek to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. These practices are not therapy, and have been rejected by every reputable medical and health organization. Among the many harms caused by SOGIE change practices are depression, anxiety, substance use, homelessness and even suicide.

As reported by George B., a gender non-conforming Kenyan living in South Africa and survivor of SOGIE change practices, “’Conversion therapy’ is not a single event — it is a process of continued degradation and assault on the core of who you are. There are often repeated violations in the form of psychological and sometimes physical abuse...It is not one instance — it is a continued sense of rejection. The pressure is enormous.” Accounts like George’s remind us daily that change must be accelerated when it comes to ending this harmful, inhumane practice.

That is why OutRight and our partners are working to eliminate it. For example, at an event just this week, “Converting Mindset, Not Our Identities: Eradicating SOGIE Change Efforts in Africa,” OutRight and our partners - The Initiative for Equal Rights in Nigeria (TIERS), the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALK), and Access Chapter 2 in South Africa (AC2) - discussed the nature, extent, and impact of SOGIE change efforts in these three countries. OutRight and our partners will soon launch a set of reports - the first in a series of advocacy resources for the region and beyond - to support national and global campaigns to end conversion practices as a form of torture and discrimination. It is OutRight’s and our partners hope that, with these new resources in hand, activists and allies everywhere can coalesce to accelerate an elimination of SOGIE change practices.

In solidarity,
Maria Sjödin
they or she pronouns
Acting Executive Director


  • OutRight invites organizations and individuals working to advance the human rights of LGBTIQ people to sign on to a letter to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) calling for an inclusive understanding of gender and gender persecution. The ICC Office of the Prosecutor is creating a policy paper to advance accountability for gender persecution under the Rome Statute, the treaty that governs the ICC. We are calling on the Office of the Prosecutor to clarify the meaning of “gender persecution” under the Rome Statute so as to ensure that the court will successfully and routinely address gender-based crimes against persons of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and sex characteristics.
  • We have finalized recruitment of eight advocates for our year-long, immersive United Nations Religion Fellowship Program. The Fellowship, made possible by a grant from the Global Faith and Equality Fund of Horizons Foundation, supports activists that work to combat religiously motivated violence and discrimination. It provides direct experience at UN advocacy and increases the visibility and engagement of LGBTIQ human rights defenders within high-level United Nations forums. Fellows will participate digitally in several high-level meetings 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. Meet the Fellows here: https://outrightinternational.org/ReligionFellows2022.
  • The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing have triggered discussion of a range of human rights concerns in China. Among them is the increasingly precarious situation for LGBTQ people and activism in support of their rights. OutRight Action International prepared a brief Q&A, Fading Rainbow, to spotlight China’s Party-state’s efforts to obstruct LGBTQ equality and inclusion.
  • In December 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution in support of “fair, periodic, inclusive and genuine elections.” The resolution, “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in the promotion of democratization and enhancing periodic and genuine elections,” is historic because it is only the second resolution in the General Assembly to explicitly mention “sexual orientation and gender identity”. The resolution called on States to take measures to eliminate laws, regulations and practices that discriminate, directly or indirectly, against citizens in their right to participate in public affairs, including based on race, color, ethnicity, national or social origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, language, religion, political views or on the basis of disability. OutRight’s new brief, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Inclusion at the United Nations, explains the importance of the resolution and key takeaways from the process.
  • At the end of January, OutRight released the report, Even If You Go to the Skies, We’ll Find You: LGBT People in Afghanistan After the Taliban Takeover, with Human Rights Watch. OutRight is currently conducting follow-up advocacy urging humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan to take into account, and make provisions to address, the particular vulnerabilities of LGBTQ people in their provision of humanitarian assistance. Read more about this in a recent Advocate op-ed, Will Humanitarian Aid Reach the LGBTQ+ Afghans in Hidingco-written by OutRight’s Senior Director of Law, Policy & Research and our Senior Fellow - Emergency Research. Also, if you missed it last month, we invite you to watch the report’s animated short film and press conference.
  • OutRight is thrilled to announce that #StartSmall, Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative, has made a significant contribution to further our vision of protecting and lifting up at-risk LGBTIQ people around the world. Read more about this exciting gift here.
  • JOIN OUR TEAM! OutRight is currently recruiting for the following positions: UN Program Director (located in NYC); Director of Communications & Marketing; Media Relations Manager; Program Officer, Public Policy (located in Washington DC); Regional Director - Asia. For information about these roles and how to apply, please see https://outrightinternational.org/content/job-opportunities.

Get to Know Us

chandler bazemore

Chandler Bazemore

Chandler (he/him) is Senior Development Manager at OutRight, spearheading fundraising efforts in New York City. Chandler has a passion for social justice and organizations committed to improving people's lives, and mobilizes his nearly 20 years of fundraising and development experience to help create a world where all people are respected, supported, and encouraged to live their true and authentic selves. Outside of work, Chandler enjoys spending time with friends exploring the City and casual days shopping. Often on the weekends Chandler can be found in a streaming spiral watching reality television, historical documentaries, murder mysteries, and period pieces. Since the pandemic Chandler has explored his culinary side and expanded his cooking skills by trying new recipes, which has led to his appreciation of and overspending on food delivery services.

 

OutRight in the Media

  • National Public Radio’s Here and Now Magazine interviewed OutRight’s Senior Fellow of Emergency Research, J. Lester Feder, on OutRight and Human Rights Watch’s groundbreaking report on the increased levels of violence and abuse faced by LGBTIQ Afghans under the Taliban regime.
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy published our op-ed about how funders can follow the example of MacKenzie Scott and other donors who are stepping up to provide significant, unrestricted support for queer and trans organizations at a pivotal moment of threats and opportunity for the global LGBTIQ movement.

Term of the Month

SOGIESC

An acronym for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. An umbrella term for all people whose sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and/or sex characteristics place them outside culturally mainstream categories. Culturally mainstream categories tend to be a norm imposed by a majority, and are continuously being redefined. Regardless of a person's SOGIESC, they are protected by universal, inalienable human rights.

 

  • OutRight, in partnership with IraQueer, will launch a report on queer women in today’s Iraq. We invite you to join the launch event on March 1st, at 1:00pm ET/ 9:00pm Baghdad time. Register here: bit.ly/OutRight-IraQueer 
  • On June 6, 2022, OutRight will hold its in-person Gala, Celebration of Courage, in New York City. Tickets and sponsorships go on sale March 1st. OutRight is offering a special Early Bird Discount for ticket purchases between March 1st and March 15th. Get your ticket/s today, here!

 

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