In Britain lesbian, gay and bisexual people enjoy almost full legal equality. Globally it’s a different story.
Being gay is illegal in over 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 British Government to work quietly behind the scenes and at other times they want them to be public in their 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 International Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The infamous anti-gay bill in Uganda has not gone away. Although the President has publically distanced himself from the bill many parliamentarians are still pressing for it to be debated and passed into law. 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, paedophiles and repeat offenders.
On advice from local activists Stonewall continues to press the UK government to do all it can to stop the bill. We are keeping in contact with local activists to respond, as advised, to new developments on the ground.
The Croatian Government plans to introduce civil partnership legislation in advance of their EU membership later this year. In November last year we visited Croatia and were able to share tactics with activists and advise the group who are responsible for drafting the law on civil partnership. The Deputy Gender Ombudsperson and activists visited Stonewall at the end of February. They met with key people in Stonewall and learnt about our campaigns on civil partnership and marriage. They also meet with the UK Government Equalities Office to understand the role it plays in gay equality in the UK. The visitors left feeling inspired and encouraged by their time in London.
In early February Russia's Parliament backed a bill which outlaws the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’. If it becomes law it will make it illegal to hold public events that promote gay equality or to give children any information about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues. Stonewall has been listening to Russian gay equality activists and working with the FCO to make sure they do all they can to stop the bill becoming law. It is an uphill struggle for Russian activists as the bill had unanimous support at its first reading in the Russian Duma. The next vote is due sometime in June.
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 - passed its first reading in the House of Assembly. Same-sex couples who marry will face up to 14 years in prison. The bill also outlaws any 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.
Stonewall is lobbying the UK government to make sure that they are operating diplomatically to do all they can to prevent the bill becoming law. We’re also talking to activists to see how we can best support their work to defeat the bill. The next vote is due sometime in June.
In March we attended a one day conference on Homophobia and Freedom of Expression organised by the Polish Parliament and the Council of Europe. We shared with activists from across Eastern Europe and Polish Parliamentarians how Stonewall tackles homophobia in education and the workplace.
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 young gay people through programmes such as Talent and Youth Volunteers.
Activists and governments from across the world are currently preparing for a possible second resolution at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. The first resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity was agreed in 2011. It led to a report detailing the abuses lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experience globally and has helped to raise the profile of these concerns in the UN system. Activists and supportive governments hope that a second resolution will be passed in June which will take the issues a step further in the UN system. We have been talking to the UK Government about what the resolution could include, and have encouraged them to work with other supportive governments to make sure it is passed.
Our international work is fast moving 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.
Tell Naome and the rest of the Call Me Kuchu cast you are standing in solidarity with them as they work with their allies in Uganda to defeat the bill. ‘Like’ their Facebook page
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.
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