9 Inspiring Women Backing LGBT Rights Around the World
BY Michelle Garcia
March 07 2014 12:17 PM ET
Kenita Placide, St. Lucia
The Caribbean may be viewed as a paradise, but antigay laws and persecution can make a difficult life for its LGBT inhabitants. In fact, Immigration Equality says Jamaica is one of the countries from which it receives the highest number of asylum inquiries (aside from Russia, at the moment). But in St. Lucia, Kenita Placide won't let LGBT rights get pushed aside. She is the co-executive director of Saint Lucia’s United and Strong Inc, the eastern Caribbean coordinator of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities, and the Alternate Women’s Secretariat of the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Most interestingly, however, Placide was named People’s Choice For Person of the Year 2013 by the St. Lucia Star newspaper.
"I realize that although we get a lot of negative comments, by educating and informing, we have helped to make some of their lives much, much easier," she told the newspaper. "It’s one thing to be afraid of what you do not know, it’s another to take some time to understand about the issues."
Pussy Riot, Russia
Feminist punk protest band Pussy Riot has become a symbol of rebellion and censorship in Putin's Russia, a country that has seemingly been minimizing any existing rights that LGBT people may have gained in the past few decades. The band's global prominence has only exploded after members served time in prison for "hooliganism" just as the government enacted a law barring LGBT "propaganda."
Mariela Castro, Cuba
One of the biggest surprises to come out of Cuba in the last decade was from a Castro — specifically, the daughter of current president Raul Castro and niece of Fidel, Mariela Castro. Her whole-hearted campaigning for LGBT rights has captured international attention, especially as her home nation is known for having sent LGBT people to labor camps during the 1960s and '70s and forcing many people to remain closeted for decades due to the culture. Now, through her work and collaboration with many others, things are improving. Castro is the director of Cenesex (Cuba's National Center for Sex Education), and her proposal for the government to fund gender affirmation procedures became law in 2008.