NEW YORK (June 26, 2019) - It is Pride month - a time during which LGBTIQ movements around the world celebrate progress and resilience, when attention is drawn to countering violence, when the spotlight shines on stories of LGBTIQ people with a view to raising awareness, increasing understanding, and promoting progress.
Fifty years ago, LGBTIQ people at Stonewall Inn broke out into spontaneous riots in protest of the shaming they were being subjected to by repeated police raids. These protests gave rise to the first Pride marches - expressions of protest and rebellion, loud affirmations of our existence and our determination to no longer accept being shamed into silence and invisibility, but to claim our right to be exactly who we are and live life free from harassment and violence.
Fifty years later, New York is gearing up for World Pride, which will undoubtedly be an exuberant celebration of the incredible achievements that have been attained since those riots. OutRight will happily join these celebrations, for there is so much to celebrate - the last month alone brought news of decriminalization of same sex relations in Bhutan and Botswana, of criminalization of homophobia and transphobia in Brazil, of legalization of same-sex marriage in Ecuador.
But in addition to celebrating, we will march in the same spirit of protest that the first marches embodied, because we have much left to fight for:
" 68 countries and several territories still criminalize same-sex relations, in a handful of which the death penalty can be applied;
" In 55 countries LGBTIQ organizations can not legally register;
" In 30 countries no LGBTIQ organizations exist at all, whether registered or unregistered;
" LGBTIQ people are subjected to harmful and ineffective 'conversion therapies,' recognized to be tantamount to torture by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, around the world;
" Only nine countries have explicit anti-discrimination protection on grounds of sex characteristics, and only three ban nonconsensual normalizing surgeries on intersex children.
We are also seeing an increasing backlash against LGBTIQ people on a global level. Efforts to exclude LGBTIQ people at the UN level have strengthened, even by states that, in the past, were champions of LGBTIQ equality. Global leaders ranging from Jair Bolsonaro to Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump have expressed openly homophobic and/or transphobic comments. In a particularly despicable move, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education used Pride month to issue an extensive guidance document for Catholic schools and universities in essence promoting bullying and exclusion of LGBTIQ youth.
Let us celebrate the achievements, while not forgetting that we have a battle with backlash ahead of us before LGBTIQ people everywhere can live free to be who they are, love whom they choose, free from fear of violence, hate and persecution.
Executive Director, OutRight Action International
Courtesy of OutRight Action International
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