In Britain lesbian, gay and bisexual people enjoy almost full legal equality. Globally it’s a different story.
Being gay is illegal in 78 countries across the world and being a lesbian is illegal in 49. In 5 countries same-sex sexual activity carries the death penalty.
Even where it’s legal to be gay other laws often stand in the way of equality. In some cases gay pride marches are not allowed and neither is literature that ‘promotes homosexuality’ - which often means it simply states its existence.
All around the world people are silenced, imprisoned, violently attacked, defined as mentally ill or murdered, just because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Stonewall is working internationally to end this persecution.
We’re using our established lobbying skills to make sure the UK Government and European Union do all they can through their diplomacy and international aid programmes to support gay equality globally.
We’re sharing our lobbying approach and tools with the activists fighting for their rights and risking their lives to enjoy the same levels of equality as gay people in Britain.
We’re making sure governments that oppose gay equality know that it’s a global issue and not, as some try to argue, a ‘western phenomenon’. This means that we’re working to promote different voices from around the world and making sure their stories take centre stage.
There are on-going concerns in a number of countries. Stonewall is in contact with activists around the world who are often inspired by our work. We make sure their issues are shared with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfID). Sometimes they want the UK Government to work quietly behind the scenes and at other times they want the Government to be public in its support for their gay equality campaigns. Sometimes they want Stonewall to help them attract international media attention for their cause or just want to receive some of our publications to use in their work. In every situation we’re making sure any support is aligned with the campaigns of activists in the countries concerned.
For more information on our work internationally please contact Jasmine, our Senior International Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
In June 2013 Russia's parliament held its final reading of a bill which outlaws the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’. Sadly, support for the bill was overwhelming and on 1 July the bill was signed into law. Activists have an uphill struggle ahead as they find ways to both work around the law and challenge its existence. Stonewall will continue to work with activists and the Foreign Office to strategise and campaign for equality there.
We have produced an update on Russia which provides more information on the bill and makes suggestions for how individuals, the UK Government and business can respond.
The infamous anti-gay bill in Uganda has not gone away. Although the President has publically distanced himself from the bill there is still a concern that it could be resurrected by parliamentarians. The bill introduces life imprisonment for homosexual behaviour, including having gay sex and/or being in a gay relationship. It also introduces the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’. This includes gay acts committed by parents, authority figures or HIV-positive people and ‘repeat offenders’.
On advice from local activists Stonewall continues to press the UK Government to do all it to make sure the bill does not reappear. We are keeping in contact with local activists to respond, as advised, to new developments on the ground.
In Nigeria, a deeply-worrying bill - which would make it a crime for gay people to marry and for anybody to witness a gay marriage - has now been passed in the House of Representatives. As well as outlawing marriage the bill also outlaws public displays of affection. Gay people holding hands or looking lovingly at each other would face a 10-year jail sentence. Anybody, straight or gay, who supports a gay organisation financially could also face criminal prosecution.
The bill now needs to be ‘harmonised’ so the differences are ironed out between the earlier version passed in the Senate and the one passed in June by the House of Representatives. It will then go to the President to be signed into law.
Stonewall is lobbying the UK Government to make sure it is operating diplomatically to do all it can to prevent the bill from becoming law. We’re also talking to activists in Nigeria to see how we can best support their work to defeat the bill.
In May we spoke at a roundtable conference for activists from countries with or considering anti-gay propaganda laws. We were able to share Stonewall’s experience of campaigning against Section 28, the anti-gay propaganda legislation in Britain, which was eventually abolished in 2003. A number of activists said Stonewall's story had inspired them. We will continue to support activists from Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania and Russia where these bills continue to threaten gay equality.
In May we spoke at a conference on the Rights of Children and Young People. The conference was run by the Council of Europe and aimed at supporting countries that want to improve their laws and practice on gay equality. It was attended by civil society and government representatives from Serbia, Latvia, Italy, Albania, Montenegro and Poland. We were able to share how Stonewall tackles homophobia in schools and empowers gay young people through programmes such as our Talent Programme and the Stonewall Youth Volunteering Programme.
Our international work is moving fast as we are constantly responding to issues around the world. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information and make sure you tell us what you think.
Download our fantastic posters by clicking on the images above and help us to tell the world ‘Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!’ in the language of your choice.
Download our Russia update, take action and pass the ideas on.
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