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LGBTI Rights

    July 24, 2020

    By Daniella Barreto


    Pride is a celebration of 2SLGBTQ+ communities. Every year these communities host events to centre identities that are often pushed to the margins of society by creating spaces by and for themselves.

    Usually, there are events around the world from large public parades and parties to smaller community gatherings. COVID-19 has forced many Pride organizers to cancel this year’s in-person events and look to alternative ways of celebrating. Regardless of its form, what remains at the foundation of the Pride movement is protest and a fight for human rights.

    June 29, 2020

    Here’s how you can learn more and take action in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and two-spirit rights while practicing social distancing.

    Check out what’s happening in your community

    With public events being cancelled around the world, most Pride organizing committees are cancelling in-person activities, but many are taking the protest for equality and LGBTQ2S liberation online!

    Join Amnesty International in marking Pride 2020 by attending an online protest or organizing a watch party or your own online protest for your community. Find or register an event in your community >>> 

    Check out the website or Facebook page for your local Pride organizing committee to see if they are moving any of their activities online.

    June 26, 2020

    Nadia Rahman, Researcher and Policy Advisor in Amnesty International’s Gender, Sexuality and Identity Team

    “You held my hand. Promised me a revolution. How did you forget me? How?” These lyrics by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila echoed at a Cairo concert on a September evening in 2017. They are perhaps more devastatingly relevant today than they were three years ago. 

    Sarah Hegazy, a queer feminist in the audience, probably felt a fleeting sense of freedom while watching a popular Arab band with an openly gay frontman sing to a packed audience in a conservative country, and she dared to raise the rainbow flag. Those brief moments of hope where she decided to unapologetically celebrate who she was, changed her life. And three years later, snatched it away too.  

    "To my siblings - I tried to find redemption and failed, forgive me. To my friends - the experience [journey] was harsh and I am too weak to resist it, forgive me. To the world - you were cruel, to a great extent, but I forgive."

    June 24, 2020

    A human rights response to COVID-19 must include an intersectional approach which recognizes the specific impacts of the pandemic on LGBTI people, and the need for specific actions to ensure that the pandemic response doesn't lead to discrimination and further inequalities.

    Everyone is impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. But we aren’t all impacted in the same ways or to the same extent. Multiple and intersecting identities including gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, disability, age, family status, employment status, and immigration status, all shape how a person experiences the pandemic.

    LGBTI people face significant discrimination which leads to barriers to accessing healthcare services; high rates of homelessness, poverty, and social isolation; and high rates of harassment and violence. The pandemic has further exacerbated these inequalities.

    June 04, 2020

    On May 22, over 20 women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations in Canada wrote a joint letter to the federal government, calling for low-barrier emergency income supports for sex workers, who thus far have been left out of the pandemic response in Canada.

    In response, rather than moving forward with a mechanism to provide income supports to sex workers, government responded in a subsequent meeting with advocates by suggesting that local organizations working with sex workers apply to the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund announced in May by Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development Ahmed Hussen. Most sex worker rights groups and other grassroots organizations serving marginalized communities do not fit the stated criteria to apply for such funds because they are often not registered non-profits or charities, and are made up of the marginalized individuals who have been left out of the pandemic response. In addition, the Fund does not cover income replacements.

    June 01, 2020

    Russian activist and artist Yulia Tsvetkova is facing absurd charges under Russia’s ‘gay propaganda laws.’ She faces six years in prison—simply because she posted art on social media.

    Russian authorities arrested and charged Yulia with ‘production and dissemination of pornographic materials’ after she posted body-positive pictures of women on social media.

    They later charged her with the same offence because she posted a drawing showing support for LGBTI families.

    Police raided Yulia’s house in November, calling her a ‘lesbian, sex trainer and propagandist leader.’

    This is not the first time Yulia has been targeted. She’s also been fined 50,000 rubles for being the administrator of an LGBTI Facebook page.


    Yulia has been the target of an overtly homophobic campaign since March 2019. In reaction to her public campaigning for women’s and LGBTI rights, she has faced harassment, arrest, and unfounded prosecution from authorities.

    May 26, 2020

    Kelly Gonzalez Aguilar, a 23-year-old transgender woman, fled Honduras, where she experienced violence because of her gender identity. She traveled to the United States and was released from immigration detention on July 14, 2020 after spending almost three years in detention.

    Kelly was detained for two years and 11 months. While in detention, she feared becoming infected by COVID-19 because of the inadequate measures taken by authorities to protect detainees and staff from the virus. She told Amnesty that, “our lives are in danger because there are people here who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and there is nothing we can do. More detainees keep coming and going. This is a time bomb for our lives. We pray that someone will do something.”

    Kelly is one of many transgender women being held in immigration detention in the US, where they risk ill-treatment because of their gender identity, and because of COVID-19.

    Amnesty and other organizations advocated for Kelly's release. Her release on July 14, 2020 is attributed to our collective activism!

    September 17, 2019

    Alejandra Barrera, a transgender Salvadorian activist who had been held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017, was released September 6, 2019, as a result of international advocacy efforts, spearheaded by Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition, National Immigrant Justice Center, and dozens of members of the United States Congress.

    June 26, 2019
    Drawing of the Human rights defenders who lead the Stonewall Riots in 1969

    Fifty years ago, nine New York police officers stormed the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street and began aggressively searching the bar’s patrons. They demanded identification and arrested anyone they suspected of being gay or dressed in a way that didn’t conform to mainstream society’s narrow understanding of gender.

    The events that followed would spark the modern LGBTI rights movement, inspiring the first LGBTI Pride parade down Christopher Street.  

    In 1969, it was still illegal to be gay in most parts of the US. For many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, nights out at places like the Stonewall Inn were the only times where they could openly be themselves. The venue was known for its celebration of inclusion and also became a safe space for sex workers and the homeless.

    In the early hours of 28 June 1969, as police started harassing everyone in the bar and dragging them into the backs of squad cars, the Stonewall patrons didn’t just protest a police raid on a bar: They were protecting their home.


    How did the Stonewall Riots start?

    May 16, 2019

    Amnesty International’s goal is to ensure that the human rights of everyone, everywhere are respected, protected, and upheld. We conduct research and generate action to prevent and halt human rights violations and demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.

    Amnesty International recognizes that lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S), Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour in Canada and around the world disproportionately experience human rights violations perpetrated by the police, state actors, and non-state actors because of systems of oppression.

    State and police violence against LGBTQ2S, Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour violate the right to life; the rights to liberty and security of the person; the right to safety and to live free from violence  and discrimination; the rights to protest, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly; and the right to live free from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

    May 07, 2019

    Following news that the planned student Pride march at the Middle East Technical University (METU) will not be allowed to take place by the university’s rectorate, Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Europe said:

    “For the last eight years students at this university have marched through their campus to celebrate Pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI people. It is celebration of love which sends a message of hope to all those struggling to uphold fundamental rights in Turkey and beyond.

    “Rather than banning Pride events, the university should be supporting and protecting such marches and challenging homophobia and transphobia. The Rectorate must reverse its decision and allow students without fear of intimidation or violence.”


    The march was scheduled to take place on 10 March.

    Turkish authorities must ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and their allies are able to enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and assembly without fear of intimidation or violence.

    April 24, 2019

    Zak Kostopoulos (also known as Zackie Oh, his drag stage name), a queer activist and human rights defender in Greece, died on September 21, 2018 following a violent attack. Zak was a tireless defender of the rights of LGBTI people and HIV-positive persons.

    Video footage taken by eye witnesses show that Zak was brutally beaten by two men after entering a jewelry shop in central Athens. Footage also shows police arriving and violently attempting to arrest Zak. According to the forensic report, Zak died from the multiple injuries he sustained.

    While an investigation into Zak’s death is ongoing, many are concerned about flaws and delays in the investigation as well as persistent systemic failings in investigations concerning cases of police violence in Greece.

    Following Zak’s killing, fake news was spread, and discriminatory comments were made about LGBTI people, people living with HIV, and people who use drugs. This must not be tolerated.  

    Urge Greek authorities to ensure #Justice4ZakZackie

    April 03, 2019

    Responding to the news that Brunei Darussalam has today finalised the implementation of a new Shariah Penal Code that introduces cruel punishments such as death by stoning for same-sex sexual acts and amputation for robbery, Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, said:

    “We are extremely concerned that these heinous punishments have become law in Brunei today.

    “This new penal code allows punishments such as amputation or death by stoning which are unspeakably cruel and have no place anywhere in the world.

    “We are alarmed that the code criminalizes behaviour that should not be considered crimes at all. The international community must continue to condemn Brunei’s decision to put these cruel penalties into practice.

    “The Brunei authorities must refrain from implementing these laws, and must take necessary steps to repeal this unacceptable legislation and bring it in line with international human rights laws and standards.”

    These punishments are provided for in newly-implemented sections of Brunei’s Sharia Penal Code that will come into force today.


    April 01, 2019

    Two years after the violent ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya, Russian authorities have failed to provide justice for the victims, Amnesty International said today.

    In a crackdown revealed in 2017, dozens of men were abducted, tortured and killed for their real or perceived sexual orientation. To date, not one person has yet been held accountable for these crimes.

    “The Russian authorities have shown themselves to be complicit in heinous crimes committed in Chechnya against people believed to be gay or lesbian”, said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    “Two years after reports of a ‘gay purge’ sent shockwaves worldwide, it’s clear that the perpetrators have gone unpunished because of state-sponsored homophobia and impunity for human rights violations in Chechnya.”

    Meanwhile, authorities have also failed to provide effective protection to LGBTI rights defender Igor Kochetkov, the leading figure in the public investigation of the violent crackdown, who has recently received death threats.

    March 12, 2019

    Responding to reports that Brazilian police have arrested two men in Rio de Janeiro over the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes on 14 March 2018, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This week marks one year since Marielle Franco was brutally killed, in an attack which devastated the many communities whose rights she fought to defend. Marielle’s killing was a blatant attempt to silence a brave human rights defender, who had devoted her life to advocating for women, LGBTI people and black youth in Rio favelas.”

    “These arrests are the first sign of progress in an investigation that has barely moved in the year since the killings. We are calling for the Brazilian authorities to ensure that investigations are independent and impartial, and to bring all those responsible, including those who ordered the crime, to justice in fair trials.”

    “There is no better way to honour Marielle Franco’s amazing legacy than by committing to protect human rights defenders and ensuring they can safely continue their vital work.”


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