Why all LGBT people should care about places like Russia, Uganda, and Gambia

Kevin Jennings, the Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation, has written an op-ed for The Huffington Post, in which he calls the LGBT community in the United States to get more informed and engaged in LGBT issues overseas.

[Our] country is partly to blame for what's happening in the rest of the world. It seems that one so-called "Western value" that transports well across national boundaries is anti-LGBT prejudice, which is being actively spread by American extremist groups throughout the Global East and Global South.

Anti-LGBT activists here at home, such as Scott Lively, are in the literal business of exporting homophobia and transphobia overseas. Mr. Lively has been intimately involved with building support for and even crafting anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda and Russia. In February, he announced the formation of an international group solely meant to expand upon similar efforts and backed by more than 70 anti-LGBT activists, including Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern.

Our fellow Americans have helped create the problem; we bear some responsibility for cleaning up their mess.

But there is a larger reason we have to get involved. We are not just citizens of the United States; we are citizens of the world and belong to a global community that includes millions of LGBT people. We owe it to them to stand with them when they are oppressed. In the 1970's, when Soviet Russia upped its repression of Jews, the American Jewish community took action and fought for their fellow adherents. In the 1980's, when the South African government seemed to be unrelenting of its commitment to apartheid, an American movement with prominent African American leadership took root and helped to enact sanctions that eventually brought apartheid to its knees. Should LGBT people and allies in the US decide to say "never again" to global homophobia and transphobia, we will follow in a proud tradition of other communities who have done the same.

I don't want to minimize the struggles we still face in the U.S. But LGBT people living in the U.S. are not grappling with the passage of laws that would empower the government to take away our children or lead to life imprisonment because of our sexual orientation. We need to support LGBT people abroad.

Read the full op-ed at The Huffington Post

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