This Saturday, people in countries around the world will participate in the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (“IDAHOT”). Several events will take place to spread awareness of the unequal treatment that plagues the LGBT community. This year, the adopted theme is Free Expression, which aims to underscore the importance of free expression of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The right to freedom of expression of members of sexual and gender minorities should be universally respected as part of the most fundamental human rights, as is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, in the 78 countries in the world where same sex relationships are criminalized, any positive expression on the issue of sexual identity is censored, putting an initial barrier to the possibility of advocating for change, or to start addressing the stigma that sexual and gender minorities face. In many additional countries, freedom of expression around sexual orientation and gender identity issues is heavily restricted by abusive laws which equate information about sexual and gender diversity to pornography, or deem them intrinsically harmful to children and/or offensive to society at large.
Additionally, GLAAD's Global Voices program provides a platform in which LGBT people from around the world can share their stories, challenge international homophobia and transphobia, and bring further media attention to the LGBT equality movement. That program has been used to publish stories like GLAAD’s recent return of a donation to the Beverly Hills Hotel, while noting that "[c]ompanies like the Dorchester Collection that are affiliated with Brunei or any other country that would execute LGBT people will continue to be called out by LGBT people, and all fair-minded people, around the world.”
We also recently used the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards to recognize the hard work of LGBT advocates in Russia and Uganda. Manny de Guerre told the crowd how the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival was combatting Russia's anti-propaganda laws by sharing films that tell the real stories of LGBT people. John "Longjones" Abdallah Wambere spoke about the threats to the lives of LGBT people in Uganda and called for solidarity in raising up the voices of LGBT Ugandans.
Join LGBT people and allies by signing the IDAHOT’s “Global Call to World Leaders.” The petition urges leaders to acknowledge the fundamental right to expression irrespective of sexuality or gender identity. To participate, it can be signed electronically or through a Thunderclap initiative (English / Spanish), which will disseminate the petition to millions of people at the same time!