"When I came out I knew I was going to have bullies, and I knew people were not going to be OK with it. But I never expected it to be from the people who were supposed to protect you from the bullies." ~ Austin Wallis, 17 year old on being told by his school principal to stop being gay or leave the school
During the conference, Rev. Lizette Tapia-Raquel of Union Theological Seminary-Philippines challenged participants to think of the meaning of the word “inclusion”:
“Are we saying that as a Church, we can really exclude anyone? It is not us as a Church but is God who welcomes us all. Maybe we should change our language and stop talking about inclusion but start talking about welcoming, as God welcomes.”
“It is my freedom, my self-expression. If I don’t fight for that, then why am I living here?”
~ Sasha, Lebanese fashion model and transgender activist
"I hope that one day all young gay people can fall in love and still dream of a future" ~Former PM of Iceland, Johanna Siguroardottir
“It is absolutely sickening and ridiculous that in the 21st century a homosexual act gets a person in Cameroon six months to five years imprisonment.”
Barrister Walter Atoh
"The veil of social morality cannot be used to violate fundamental rights of even a single individual."
~ India's Supreme Court Justices striking down Section 377 of the Penal Code that criminalized being gay.
An interpretation of non-discrimination which excludes people based on their sexual orientation would be in conflict with the principles of human dignity, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, and non-discrimination.
~ excerpt from the High Court of Kenya ruling that despite anti-homosexuality laws, an LGBT group has the right to form. Signed by Justices Isaac Lenaola, Ngugi Grace Mumbi, George Vincent Odunga, and Isaac Lenaola
"Today, a shameful history of pathologization, institutionalization, “conversion” and sterilization begins to come to a close."
Statement on the WHO update to the ICD-11 from GATE, AKAHATA, TGEU, APTN, ILGA, Post-Soviet Trans* Coalition, Iranti.org, STP International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization
Will I prioritize [rights] over finding money for food? Labor issues, issues of the workforce are issues of LGBT people. And the sooner we recognize that, then the sooner we can provide responses to the needs of members of our community who need proper attention”
~ Claire, a transgender woman, on the striking workforce at Tanduay Distillers Inc in the Philippines
"Most developed and free nations of the world accept homosexuality, as they should. If we want to be one of them one day, it is time to start behaving like we belong in the modern world. Strong minority rights are evidence of justice in society. It shows even the powerless are heard and protected. So, gay or not, we need to do this. We need to move ahead in the world." ~ Chetan Bhagat, acclaimed Indian author
I want sanctuary. I just want to be protected. I want to be who I am.
~ Aderonke Apata, Nigerien feminist, human rights, and LGBT activist to the Independent UK on seeking asylum. Apata is currently a nominee for the National Diversity Awards 2014 Positive Role Model Awards.
"You don’t have to approve of their lifestyle. There is no compulsion for this, but you cannot deny the fact that they are humans entitled to the same dignity stipulated in every religion, Islam included. They are human beings."
~ Malaysian AIDS and human rights activist, Marina Mahathir
“With love for all of those who are positive and are afraid to speak, to all of those who know the horrible taste of rejection, to all of those who at least once have rejected or turned down someone just because of HIV status... and to the gay community, let's not forget that this is still our fight. Yes, the situation is different as it was in the beginning of the epidemic, but that doesn't mean gay positive people don't exist... We are here!” – Pablo Aguilera, Director of HIV Young Leaders Fund, Mexico
In Belgrade, four lesbian women including author Dragoslava Barzut leader of the Campaign Against Homophobia in Sport were beaten. At a press conference Barzut stated:
“As a writer, activist of Labris, and a Lesbian, I think now of all my friends and family members who are suffering because of my sexual orientation, but I choose to love myself today. I feel moral responsibility to condemn the lesbophobic attack on my friends and me.”
"We are all different, but we share the same human spirit."
~ World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking
The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) held its annual global convention in South Africa. Tourism minister Derek Hanekom delivered the keynote to participants, remarking:
We want you here to be a light to the millions of LGBT people in our country, so that wherever they are, they might know that they are not alone that they are quite normal and that they should live their lives unafraid. For that is the kind of country we are trying to build.
I respect culture, tradition and religion, but they can never justify the denial of basic rights. My promise to the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender members of the human family is this: I’m with you. I promise that as Secretary-General of the United Nations I will denounce attacks against you and I will keep pressing leaders for progress.
~ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
“Ke nako ya gore re amogele gore re na le batho ba mohuta oo mo Botswana. Go thola re ganetsa selo se re se itseng kgotsana re se bone ga gona go re thusa ka sepe.
It is time we accept that we have these people in our lives. To continuously deny these facts would not help us in any way." ~ City councillor Sesupo Jacobs from Bostwana as the Gaborone City Council urged the national government to decriminalise same-sex sexual relationships
"As variation in sexual identities and orientations has always been part of a normal society, there can be no justification for attempts to ‘eliminate’ LGBTI from society.
The Academy of Science South Africa report "Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa"
This is a fight for human rights. Its does not pit African traditions against western traditions or the colonised against colonisers. Africa has the same universal values and belongs to humanity. It is not separate, and neither is Cameroon.
~ Alice Nkom, Cameroonian lawyer and longtime advocate for decriminalization of homosexuality
"We need open mindedness about sexuality, about sex and about sexual health. Only then we can empower young people and give them confidence." ~ Reina Buijs of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking on sex rights and education at #AIDS2018.
From Zimbabwe, journalist Wongai Zhangazha explored the challenges faced by gay sex workers who are doubly discriminated against for their sexuality and their profession, leaving them with very little choice when seeking HIV prevention and other health needs. As Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) director Chester Samba described:
“At times nurses call each other and say, come and look. We have an LGBTQI person with an STI. [Others] bring a Bible and throw it over their laps.”
In Turkey, openly gay activist and HIV+ person Hasan Atik is running for office where he hopes to continue educating and fighting for LGBT and PLHIV rights:
“I will voice our strongest wish to live a life based on equal citizenship, not positive discrimination.”
"I've become disillusioned and even passive since the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on Section 377. I'm just tired of speaking up. People don't realise how the law fuels social prejudice."
~ Onir, Indian filmmaker as the Supreme Court reconsiders Section 377 of the penal code that criminalizes homosexuality.
“This bill criminalizes homosexuality. Basically you can’t even come out anymore. You can’t even hold hands. This bill gives the green light to attack us. Violence and discrimination and hate against the LGBT community will increase.” ~ Activist in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
“I have been going to the mountain to pray about how to stop being gay, fasting and I came to the point that I was just starving myself…it’s something that I have tried and I have come to the point where I am saying: this is me and if I try to run away from myself, then who am I going to be?”
~ Eric Sambisa, from Malawi
From age 12 to 16, I shamed myself for having different feelings from my heterosexual classmates. I didn’t treat myself as I should have. I didn’t say, It’s OK to be different. There weren’t any people in my South African community who validated my feelings. There weren’t any mentors who could help me figure out how to be in the world as a queer female. ~ Lareto Mokube, South African poet and artist, currently seeking asylum in the US
“Homosexuals are around us, like it or not, this is a fact that has been true since long ago and it is still true today. They might be those closest to us, our children, our siblings, our grandchildren, or our best friends, but sometimes we have no empathy for this issue. They are not people who have invaded from the West but rather they are part of us."
~ Hartoyo, an LGBT activist from Jakarta in an open letter to a newly-elected politician
"While the criminal laws exist, people will feel shame, and the hypocrisy will continue. Hypocrites often look at gay men purely in terms of a sex act, not human beings who love, who work, who pay taxes."
~Eric Gitari, Kenyan lawyer who was outed by tabloids
‘Day after day our children are pushed to jump off of a cliff. Without realizing that intimidation, humiliation and incitement to abuse are not from children, but adults who are unable to break their own paradigms.’ ~ Alba Lucía Reyes Arena, while receiving an honorary diploma for her son Sergio David Urrego Reyes. Sergio, only 16 years old, killed himself because of on-going homophobic bullying by school officials and teachers.
"We were seen, we were counted...and in the end we were valued."
~ Jensen Byrne, UN volunteer on the importance of Ireland's National Referendum on marriage equality.
"When it comes to promoting and protecting LGBT rights worldwide, I believe no battle matters more right now than the demand for judicial independence and the rule of law."
~ Emily Thornberry, UK Member of Parliament
“By now we should all be aware of the poisonous consequences of these ill-informed and hateful bills: they produce hate and lead to impunity for violence and discrimination against minorities. This has no place in a country that has committed itself through its constitution to full protection of human and civil rights.”
Daniele Viotti, Member of the European Parliament in regards to Kyrgyzstan's proposed anti-LGBT bill
"I believe that my school isn't special. I believe that there are places like Hillsboro all over the county where young people are hurting, feeling alone, and being discriminated against because of who they are. And I believe it's important, now that I've been put in this position, for me to stay strong for all of those young people and for my community"
~ Trans teen Lila Perry on the controversy stirred in her town around her use of the girl's locker room.
“The world cannot allow itself to be silenced by some members of parliaments who are driven by hatred, torture, discrimination, and persecution of innocent LGBTI people.”
~ Edwin Sesange, African Equality Foundation responding to the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
“If we are faithful to our values and to our ideals, love and care in families must naturally extend to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.” ~ Deputy Secretary-General of the U.N. Jan Eliasson on International Human Rights Day at the session ‘Love is a Family Value: Supporting All Family Members and Families.’
“We believe this proposal is viewed by many people of faith and by others as a straightforward attack on LGBT community and it is not consistent with the loving and inclusive message of Christianity” ~ Canon Charles Kenny, spokesman for the Church of Ireland's gay rights group Changing Attitude Ireland, on Northern Ireland's proposed anti-gay "conscience clause"
“We should remember that there is the LGBTI community. As we provide services, we should remember that they are part of the nation. Like everybody else, they have rights.”
~ Lesotho'sMinister of Justice, Human Rights and Correctional Services, Hon Mokhele Moletsane
Frankly, I don’t even care about acceptance, but how dare you label me a criminal?
The truth is that I live in New Delhi, am financially independent and fairly well-known. All these help protect me but one only has to visit smaller cities, or go to villages to find out more about discrimination. I’ll also say that it’s not only about class and money; it is also about the environment. Imagine a mindset in which girls are raped in the belief that they’ll become straight.
~ Celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia on the Indian law, Section 377, that criminalizes her sexuality.
“All I want now is to be in a safe place, unreachable by my dad or anyone with extremist thoughts. I want to be safe, to be free, and to be myself - to get my degree and start living… I just want to start living.”
~ Taim, who escaped Iraq after ISIS members told his father Taim is gay
If God wanted just another heterosexual, God could have created one, but instead God created me fabulous. My sexual orientation is something I cannot change.”
~ Johann De Joodt, after his years spent engaged in ‘conversion therapy’ in Australia
"Despite our achievements and contributions to India in various fields, we are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights."
~ Businesswoman Ayesha Kapur, dancer Navtej Singh Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, restaurateur and TV personality Ritu Dalmia, and historian Aman Nathin in their joint petition against India's Section 377 criminalizing homosexuality.
"I am proud to stand for the equality of all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. I speak out because laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance." UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in India, Jan 12, 2015.
‘We can’t have one group benefitting while another is suffering. We [The Ministry] do not share the view that the rights of citizens are good for one but not the others.’
~ Guyana Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence
Tel Aviv elected its first openly gay mayor, Eitan Ginzburg, to office. Ginzburg celebrated with his partner and twin children:
“I was chosen not because I am gay and not in spite of it, but because of the work I have done.”
“We are all born the way we are. We need to support, embrace and respect each other. When we treat each other with dignity, we are all more dignified. When we treat each other with respect, we are all more respected.
I wish you affirm yourselves and your identities as well as your various diversities and celebrate your wonderful, beautiful, outstanding humanity.”
~ South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
"I was extremely angry that I hadn’t been able to do anything to save my boyfriend’s life. I was still grieving. So I turned my grief and anger into rage and action and got involved with the movement."
~ Eric Sawyer, founding member of ACT UP NY, co-founder of Housing Works, and co-founder of HealthGAP
"Too many victims go without recognition, remedy or justice. Too many perpetrators are free to strike again, undeterred by the prospect of rule of law."
~ UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the need for rigorous data collection on hate crimes
“We want you here to be a light to the millions of LGBT people in our country, so that wherever they are, they might know that they are not alone that they are quite normal and that they should live their lives unafraid. For that is the kind of country we are trying to build.”
~ Derek Hanekom, South Africa
Margarette May Macaulay
“There’s only one race in the world and that’s the human race. And if there’s only one race, the human race, all humans are entitled to the same rights. It is a fundamental, easy, easy thing to accept if one is a thinking human being, but of course common sense is not so common.”
Margarette May Macaulay, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights President