Africa / Americas / Asia

People-to-people: How to help LGBT folks in repressive lands

Map of the 79 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.

Map of the 79 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex. (To see the list compiled by Erasing 76 Crimes, click on the map.)

Q. A journalist asked, “How can ordinary people in liberal democracies help improve life for LGBT folks in countries where just being LGBT is against the law?”

My answer is below. What is yours? (Please comment!)

I wrote this quickly, without trying to craft a definitive answer:

A.  First of all, it’s important for people in the Global North to realize the harms that their governments and their ancestors have done to people in the Global South, starting with exploitative colonization and continuing through still-exploitative neo-colonial relationships. So “ordinary people in liberal democracies” should have no illusions that they’re needed or would be welcome as self-appointed saviors swooping in to fix developing countries’ problems, including the injustices suffered by LGBTI people there.

That said, help is needed by many brave and hard-working activists in countries with anti-LGBT laws who are combating homophobia, transphobia and stigmatization of HIV-positive people there. They deserve financial support. People who have the means to support those activists should judge for themselves who seems most deserving of help. Some possibilities to consider:

  • Alturi.org, which works to educate and engage individual supporters who want to help improve the lives of LGBTI people worldwide.
  • NoStringsNG.com, providing a voice for the LGBTIQ community in Nigeria.
  • Clare Byarugaba (Photo courtesy of Colby Magazine)

    Clare Byarugaba (Photo courtesy of Colby Magazine)

    PFLAG for Uganda.

“I believe a critical component of missing in our movement is outspoken straight allies – particularly parents. Historically, parents speaking out about their LGBT children have been some of the most powerful forces to change public opinion. They provide an avenue of reliability, correcting misconceptions of other parents and educating the public.

“My goal is to create a support group where parents and their LGBT children come together to foster dialogue about what it means to be LGBT in Uganda and what it means to be a parent of an LGBT child.”

— Ugandan LGBT activist Clare Byarugaba

  • Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

    Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

    Maurice Tomlinson’s advocacy work throughout the Caribbean, including court cases in Jamaica and Belize and training sessions for police and public officials in many island nations. To support him, visit GoFundMe or GiftTool.com (where donors should designate their gifts are for “CARIBBEAN LGBTI WORK” in the feedback section at the end).

  • Sign for Rainbow Health Foundation Mbarara (RHFM)

    Sign for Rainbow Health Foundation Mbarara (RHFM)

    Rainbow Health Foundation Mbarara, one of the few LGBTI organizations located in a rural area of Uganda. To support its work against Aids and for recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people, donations can be made via PayPal (specifying donate2rhfm@gmail.com) or can be arranged by contacting rainbowhealthfoundation@gmail.com.

  • The African Human Rights Coalition, which helps LGBT refugees, especially Ugandan LGBT refugees in Kenya, where the government is threatening to close large refugee camps. Donations can be via YouCaring (non-tax-deductible gifts that provide direct assistance to refugees) or via the Social Good Fund (tax-deductible contributions that allow the coalition to continue its work advocating and providing safe shelter for LGBT refugees).

I searched for convenient ways to support several specific LGBTI organizations in Asian countries with anti-LGBT laws, but I was not successful.

 

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