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A celebration of courage: honoring the global activists who fight for LGBTQ+ rights

Maria Sjödin Executive Director of Outright International Billy Porter gala award Wilson Cruz
Courtesy Outright International

Outright International's Maria Sjödin on honoring the brave activists worldwide who fight for LGBTQ+ rights during and beyond Pride Month. How can we support these courageous heroes in their quest for equality?

As Pride Month unfolds, it's essential to recognize the remarkable efforts of organizations and individuals who champion the rights and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people year-round. Among these trailblazers are those worldwide who have shown resilience and courage in the face of significant challenges.

Since 2006, Mitini Nepal has supported and protected the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Nepal. Over the last few years, they have focused explicitly on uplifting, empowering, and advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ elders in their country. Their groundbreaking initiative has provided a platform for older queer individuals to share their personal narratives, struggles, and triumphs. We must tell stories like these that humanize our people and their joys, sorrows, and struggles.

In Uganda, the enactment of an offensive Anti-Homosexuality Act has contributed to significant legal and societal challenges. Despite setbacks, including the recent ruling by the country's Constitutional Court to uphold the law, activists remained determined in their mission for equality. Meanwhile, in Ghana, influential individuals have spoken out against the country's dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ bill. In addition to increasing penalties for consensual same-sex relations, the bill criminalizes individuals and organizations advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Prominent Ghanaianpolitical figures,lawyers, and human rights advocates have urged the Ghanaian president to reject the bill, emphasizing its brutality and injustice.

Some activists operate in hostile environments with state surveillance, prohibitions on public gatherings, and media sensationalism of LGBTQ+ issues. Despite these challenges, activists have demonstrated resilience and adaptability in navigating these environments. Activists in China have sought alternative communication platforms to evade state surveillance and prohibitions on platforms. In Ghana, activists have devised strategies to cope with challenges, such as finding welcoming facilities to hold meetings outside their region. In many other instances, activists show resourcefulness and determination in the face of adversity, committed to advancing the rights and well-being of LGBTIQ communities in challenging contexts.

The resilience and dedication of activists worldwide fuel the global quest for equal rights. Their tireless efforts, often at significant personal risk, inspire us to stand in solidarity. A most recent example comes from Dominica in the Caribbean, where a high court overturned a ban on consensual same-sex relations. The court's ruling followed a constitutional challenge brought forward by a courageous individual, with support from the Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom) and the HIV Legal Network. But we should accord a celebration of courage to all activists in the Caribbean who have made significant stridesin advancing queer rights through strategic litigation and grassroots mobilization. Their efforts have made progress in dismantling colonial-era prejudices and contemporary discriminatory practices targeting people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

LGBTQ+ individuals exist in every country at every point in time, and increasingly, we see activists and organizations also emerge. So, despite the attacks and setbacks, 2024 should be dubbed a celebration of courage as advocates and allies rise to the occasion when human rights are under threat.

It's not just during June but year-round that we should celebrate the courageous heroes among us.

Maria Sjödin is the Executive Director of Outright International, a global champion in strengthening the capacity of the LGBTQ+ movement, documenting and amplifying human rights violations, and advocating for inclusion and equality for all. Learn more about Outright International on its website at

Voices is dedicated to featuring a wide range of inspiring personal stories and impactful opinions from the LGBTQ+ and Allied community. Visit to learn more about submission guidelines. We welcome your thoughts and feedback on any of our stories. Email us at Views expressed in Voices stories are those of the guest writers, columnists and editors, and do not directly represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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