OutRight Now: November 2021 Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

OutSummit, our annual global convening for the human rights of LGBTIQ people, organized together with CUNY School of Law is just around the corner. Like last year, we are hosting it online, and hope that wherever you are, you will join us! Sessions are tailored to work across different time zones, and will take place over three days - December 8-10.

I'm pleased to announce that our second keynote speaker will be award-winning author and activist Masha Gessen (they/them). Masha Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of 12 books of nonfiction. Gessen became a journalist in the 1980s, working in the gay and lesbian press in the United States. In the early 1990s, they moved back to their native Moscow and stayed for more than 20 years, until the Kremlin's anti-LGBTIQ campaign compelled them to leave and return to New York City. They have lived there since 2014. Masha also played a key role in founding OutRight together with Julie Dorf, in particular pioneering the organization's work in Russia in the early 90's.

In addition to keynote speakers and a plenary on “LGBTIQ Lives in Crisis: Surviving Political and Natural Disasters”, over 30 sessions with speakers from across the world will cover topics ranging from tackling the backlash, eliminating sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts, and engaging diverse allies in the fight for LGBTIQ equality.

Have a look at session and speaker information on the OutSummit website and register to take part! If you are an activist, student or journalist you can register for free.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Maria Sjödin
they or she pronouns
Acting Executive Director
OutRight Action International

Many thanks to OutSummit supporters who make the event possible:

Founding Sponsor: Small Change Foundation. Signature Sponsors: Anita May Rosenstein Foundation and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Friend Sponsors: Seattle Pride and the David Bohnett Foundation.

We also thank the following corporate partners:

Presenting Sponsors: Adobe Foundation and Procter & Gamble Company.

With support from:

Google.org. Signature Sponsors: Critical Role Foundation, Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft Corporation, and the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality (PGLE). Premiere Sponsors: Dell Technologies, Global Citizen, Herman Miller Cares, Hunter Boot, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Michael Kors, Scotiabank and The Walt Disney Company. Major Sponsors: Boohoo Group, Groupe Dynamite, JAMF, Waterdrop, and Zynga. Official Sponsors: Barclays, Bluebella, Revolut, Verizon, and World Bank Group GLOBE. Friend Sponsors: Imperfect Foods, JIMDO, JKP Fundraising, Nomura Holdings America, Ooni, Shogun, and TomTom.

  • OutRight's new Emergencies Researcher, Lester Feder, is interviewing queer Afghans about the human rights violations they have experienced and risks they face after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Lester has identified a number of human rights violations including targeted arrests, raids, and cases of sexual violence. We will be publishing some of our research and are in conversation with partner organizations about collaborating to effectively advocate with the international community on steps it should take to protect the rights of both LGBTIQ Afghans who have fled Afghanistan and those who remain in the country.

  • History was made on 18 November when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution, co-sponsored by 87 states, on "strengthening the role of the UN in the promotion of democratization and enhancing periodic and genuine elections," with an explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity as part of Member States' obligations to ensure access to free and fair elections. This is only the second General Assembly resolution ever to mention SOGI (the first was around extrajudicial executions), and it didn't come without a fight. OutRight's UN team worked hard to ensure the reference made it into the resolution and against attempts to remove it. Read our press release here.

  • OutRight is assessing almost 300 applications received in the latest call to the COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund. The latest call focused on vaccine access and awareness in LGBTIQ communities. We intend to issue the first grants by the end of the year.

Get to Know Us

Neela Ghoshal

Neela Ghoshal

Neela Ghoshal (any pronouns) is OutRight's new Director of Law and Policy. In this role, Neela oversees OutRight's research, United Nations and Caribbean program teams. Neela joins OutRight after 14 years at Human Rights Watch, where they started as a Researcher in the Africa Division focused on Burundi and Kenya, later becoming Senior Researcher in the LGBT Rights Program, and departing as its Associate LGBT Rights Program Director.

Neela holds a bachelor's in social justice studies from the University of Michigan and a master's in international relations from Yale University, and speaks English, Spanish, French and Kiswahili. They enjoy growing vegetables, cooking, singing Hamilton at karaoke, and writing about feminist parenting.


OutRight in the Media

  • Newsy interviewed Acting Executive Director Maria Sjödin live about Marvel's new movie “Eternals”, which, for the first time features an openly gay superher and his family. Maria talked about the importance of representation and portraying complexity of character.

  • Euronews quoted Acting Executive Director Maria Sjödin in an article about the US issuing the first passport with a third gender marker option.

  • Acting Executive Director Maria Sjodin wrote an opinion piece for Openly by Thomson Reuters about the importance of recognizing a third gender in official documents.

Term of the Month


This term refers to people who naturally have sex characteristics – biological traits, such as hormonal levels, chromosome patterns, gonads or genitalia – that do not match what is typically identified as male or female. There are many different intersex variations. Being intersex is a naturally occurring trait in humans. Intersex people can have different sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. November 8 was Intersex Day of Remembrance, marking solidarity with the intersex community and raise awareness about the challenges LGBTIQ people face, including medically unnecessary and invasive so-called “normalizing surgeries”, lack of recognition in official documents, and many others.


  • OutSummit, OutRight’s annual global conference for the human rights of LGBTIQ people, will take place virtually on December 8-10. OutSummit is held to coincide with and in honor of Human Rights Day, marked annually on December 10, to serve as a reminder that the human rights of LGBTIQ people are human rights.

  • Save the date for OutRight's annual Gala, Celebration of Courage, which will take place at the TriBeCa Rooftop in New York City on 6 June, 2022. Stay tuned for sponsorship opportunities and ticket sales, and event information in months to come!


Get Involved

Spread the word about OutSummit to your networks so that ever more people are able to join us in the fight for human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere!