Violence against gays and lesbians in Egypt, Russia, some African countries and elsewhere around the world is on the rise, according to speakers at the United Nations last week.
To put faces on the oppression, the Ethics of Reciprocity Conference held at the U.N. last Thursday brought together global faith leaders and those who have first-hand knowledge of the distressing conditions.
The most powerful for me was Shuhrat Saidov, a Muslim from Tajikistan. He spoke slowly and calmly about the risk of coming out in the majority Muslim country that was once part of the Soviet Union.
"If somebody knows about you, they kill you," Saidov said.
He spoke about living in two worlds as a Muslim and a member of the LGBTI -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex -- community. He was conflicted about whether to come out to his family and friends, which was not a good option for him, or leave Islam, which he did not want to do.
Today, he is the head of Advocacy and Human Rights at Equal Opportunities, which protects the rights of young Muslims in the LGBT community.
The Rev. Pat Ackerman, who heads the Ethics of Reciprocity Project, chaired the day's event, which attracted some 300 people including Andrew Gilmour, U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights.
Gilmour urged everyone to practice the "Golden Rule," a concept adopted by the major religions of the world. Read more via Jersey Journal