We often do not realize how limited our world view is. As LGBTQ people, we know the big activists like Harvey Milk and Marsha P Johnson, it is the lesser known or even activists from other parts of the world that we often know so little about. We get so caught up in the hard battles we face in America on a daily basis that we forget that there are places in our small world where the hardships we have overcome are still prevalent. In many places, it is far worse than it has been here. Who are these LGBTQ activists of the World that are out there on the front lines shaping futures for ALL peoples?
LGBTQ Activists Of The World
Beverly Palesa Ditsie
South Africa is no stranger to the struggles of marginalized people. On South African lesbian activist has tried to shape the fight for LBGTQ rights s a humans rights issue. Beijing 1995, the 4th UN World Conference on Women, Ditsie spoke on the importance of queer rights in the context of human rights. It marked her as the first openly lesbian woman to address the UN and openly addressed them on LGBTQ issues.
“If the world conference on women is to address the concerns of all women, it must similarly recognize that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of basic human rights.” – Beverly Palesas Ditsie
Founder of Agrupacion LesBlca Rompiendo el Silencio (Breaking The Silence LesBlan Association) and founder Erika Montecinos, Chilean lesbian Activist advocates for rights of cis and trans women who identify as lesbian or bisexual.
“Women are taught to be ashamed of our sexuality. And those of us who identify as lesbian, bi, or diverse ,can’t say it, because there is greater pressure on women regarding the obligations we have to society.” – Erika Montecions
Many parts of the world still have criminalization of LGBTQ people, Cameroon is one of them. There police officers regularly entrap members of the LGBTQ community with text messages and go so fears as to beat anyone they feel appears queer to them.
These atrocities did not escape Nkom, who identifies as heterosexual. Nkom has dedicated her life to fighting for Cameroon’s LGBTQ community. She founded the Association For The Defence Of Homosexuality in 2003. Due to her activism and that of her friends, she is often the target of danger by authorities. This has not stopped Nkom from her fight.
Brazil may seem beautiful from the casual eye, however violence against LGBTQ people has reached an all -time high there. In 2017, more that 400 LGBTQ people were murdered and 58 took their life by suicide. Trans woman and pastor, Alexya Salvador did not let this statistic go unnoticed.
Salvador calls herself the “first transgender shepherd of Latin America.” In 2017, she and other trans pastors, from around the world, held the first groundbreaking LGBTQ-friendly mass, in Cuba.
Salvador is a mother of two, including a trans daughter. She also has the distinction to be the first trans person in Brazil to adopt a child.
Today, It is still illegal to be LGBTQ in Iran. This did not stop Parsi, a queer activist. In 2003, he started secretly advocating for LGBTQ rights using underground online groups to unite the community to evade Iranian authorities. This caused the Iranian authorities to make him a priority in bringing into custody. Fearing for his capture, he fled to neighboring Turkey before finally fleeing to Canada.
Once in Canada, Parsi found the Iranian Railroad for Queer Regugees. This organization supports and provides guidance for LGBTQ asylum seekers. Parsi has not stopped fighting for rights, earlier in 2018 he joined members of HRC on Capitol Hill to support LGBTQ refugees affected by Trump’s travel ban.
When we think of LGBTQ adversities, it is easy to go to violence, verbal attacks, loss of job and housing, and denied basic human rights. What many of us do not realize is that there are also issues when it comes to disaster relief.
Matcha Phorn-in is a lesbian, feminist, human rights defender from Thailand. There she fights to address the night needs of Thailand’s LGBTQ community. Her focus is on the Myanmar border where every year they are rocked by landslides, flood, and fires. In the aftermath of these disasters, the basic needs of the LGBTQ people are often overlooked.
“Humanitarian programmers tend to be heteronormative and can reinforce the patriarchal structure of society if they do not take into account sexual and gender diversities.” – Matcha Phorn-in
What many of us do not see is that disaster relief prioritizes married couples (male and female) that have children, considered a family unit. Lesbian and gay couples are not recognized and many times are excluded from assistance. Phorn-in created a regional conference that brought together community members, humanitarian actors, government representatives, and donors, for the first time. It gave a chance for community members to talk about their issues and to be heard, for once.
Ireland has carried the moniker of being Europe’s most socially conservative nation. Until 1993, homosexuality was still illegal. Same sex marriage wasnt made legal until 2015. But that did not stop one man and his mission to become Prime Minister and change the face of Ireland.
Varadkar doesn’t just hold the distinction of being Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister, but also as the first the ethnic minority and youngest to hold office. Varadkar is the son of an Indian immigrant. He came out publicly just months before Ireland legalized same-sex marriage. BBC news was stated as saying Varadkar has personified the liberalization of a country that was once one of the most socially conservative nations of Europe.
Hope for the future
Steps are being taken around the world to tear down the walls of the heteronormative patriarchy, but make no mistake, there is a long way to go. We cannot simply sit here in our own country and not recognize the people that are shaping the world. In comparison, America truly does seem to be the “Land of the Free,” when it comes to LGBTQ rights. We cannot simply not recognize the struggles of our LGBTQ family from other countries.
Take a moment to look around at others struggles and familiarize yourself with what they are doing. Maybe you can lend support through voice or action. Remember, we all have a long way to go and we need our LGBTQ Activists of the World.