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Statement: The Fund Stands With LGBTQ+ Rights Activists

The Fund for Global Human Rights stands in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) people across the globe. We are proud to fund activists fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in every region where we work.

Grassroots activists, like those supported by the Fund, are a lifeline for LGBTQ+ people facing persecution. In countries where governments fail to provide adequate services, community activists offer protection and assistance to LGBTQ+ people, as well as advocating for equality at the local and national levels.

But around the world, two disturbing trends are playing out in tandem: the persecution of LGBTQ+ people (especially trans people) and the criminalization of LGBTQ+ activism.

Sixty countries still have laws that effectively criminalize homosexuality. At least 375 trans people were killed in 2021—the deadliest year on record. And governments—at every level and in every region—are enacting repressive agendas that target, harass, and harm LGBTQ+ activists.

In Ghana, a proposed anti-gay bill would impose six- to ten-year prison sentences for promoting LGBTQ rights. The extreme law also advocates for so-called conversion therapy and corrective surgery. As government and religious leaders peddle misinformation and hateful propaganda, rhetoric is reaching fever pitch. Across the country, LGBTQ+ Ghanaians face physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. We stand unequivocally with Ghanaians and with LGBTQ+ people everywhere against all forms of discrimination and persecution.

In Latin America, attacks against LGBTQ+ people—especially trans and gender non-conforming people—are on the rise. Guatemalan trans rights activist Andrea González, the 28-year-old leader of Otrans Reinas de la Noche, was murdered right outside her home. Just days prior, another member of the organization—Cecy Ixpata—was killed at a local market. In a region where trans lives are under attack, their senseless deaths emphasize the severity of the threat. We recognize and reaffirm trans rights and realities, and we stand unequivocally with trans people in Latin America and around the world.

In Uganda, a leading LGBTQ+ rights group, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was forced last year by the government to cease operations for failing to register its name. In 2016, the agency that regulates nongovernmental organizations rejected SMUG’s application for registration on the grounds that it is “undesirable and un-registrable” to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. The government’s persecution underscores the prejudice facing LGBTQ+ Ugandans. We stand unequivocally with the fearless LGBTQ+ activists who have risked their lives and livelihoods for the cause of equality.

Most recently, LGBTQ+ rights activist and fashion designer Edwin Chiloba was found murdered in Kenya, where a colonial-era law criminalizes consensual same-sex relations. Although the motive for Edwin’s shocking murder remains inconclusive, Kenyan activists say that a number of recent attacks against LGBTQ+ people in the country is evidence that sexual and gender-based violence is on the rise. We stand unequivocally with the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya and with survivors of sexual, gender-based, and intimate partner violence everywhere.

Restricting the abilities of LGBTQ+ people to associate and express themselves is a grievous violation of their human rights. It is also an attack on the sanctity of civic space. When governments abuse domestic laws to surveil, intimidate, or shut down LGBTQ+ organizations, it is a threat to human rights defenders everywhere.

“The global proliferation of harassment of LGBTQ+ organizations and activists is deeply troubling,” says Fund Vice President for Programs David Mattingly. “We can only expect more groups—representing LGBTQ+ as well as other marginalized people—to be targeted unless we speak out and apply pressure on governments to stop these abuses.”

The ability to be who you are—and to love who you love—is central to our mission and vision. In the face of homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination, we stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ people—and we will continue to fund and fight alongside incredible activists who are committed to realizing LGBTQ+ rights.

Learn more about our work supporting LGBTQ+ rights.

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