global pride 2020The annual Pride Month when the world spotlight shines on LGBTIQ equality is coming to an end.

Usually filled with parades, protests, film festivals, and activities celebrating the dignity, equality, and human rights of LGBTIQ people, this year’s Pride Month has been different.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 and surrounding containment measures, physical events could not be held, instead driving LGBTIQ activism into the digital space. Events will culminate with a virtual Global Pride spanning 24 time zones on 27 June 2020. OutRight will take part in Global Pride events, as well as partnering with numerous other Pride initiatives, such as Can’t Cancel Pride, Netflix Pride Special, This Way Out Radio’s Global Queer Read-In, and many others.

While celebration of the achievements to date is always core to Pride Month, so is recognizing the challenges LGBTIQ people still face. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a sobering reminder of how marginalized and vulnerable LGBTIQ people around the world continue to be. OutRight’s rapid research into the impact of the pandemic on LGBTIQ people, and the volume of applications to our COVID-19 Global Emergency Fund, showed that for LGBTIQ people this has been a crisis within a crisis. Facing higher levels of disruption to livelihoods, hunger, homelessness, rising levels of domestic violence, as well as exclusion from relief efforts, the situation facing LGBTIQ people as a result of the pandemic has been dire.

Moreover, the global situation for the human rights of LGBTIQ people remains challenging:

  • 68 countries around the world continue to ban same-sex relations;
  • At least 3 countries (Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia and Egypt) which have not explicitly criminalized same-sex relations in the past are considering introductions of bans;
  • So-called “conversion therapy” practices designed to change, divert, reorient or suppress the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTIQ people, while varied in their degrees of psychological and physical abuse, take place in countries across the world. They never succeed and cause deep, lasting trauma;
  • Only 5 countries around the world (Ecuador, Taiwan, Brazil, Malta and, as of May 2020, Germany) ban so-called conversion therapy;
  • Over the last 12 months the High Court in Singapore upheld a colonial-era ban on same-sex relations; a crackdown against LGBTIQ people intensified in Indonesia; authorities threatened to reintroduce the notorious “anti-homosexuality” act in Uganda; the movement lost courageous activists like Charlot Jeudy, who died under suspicious circumstances in Haiti, Yelena Grigoryeva, who was murdered in Russia, Sarah Hegazi, who took her own life in exile in Canada after years of trauma suffered at the hands of Egyptian authorities, and others.

Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern, comments:

While there are some landmarks to celebrate over the past year – such as the renewal of the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States that the Civil Rights Act protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment, Germany introducing a ban on ‘conversion therapy’ and others – the challenges which remain on the road to LGBTIQ equality are momentous. Over the last year we have faced multiple setbacks. The opposition to equality for LGBTIQ people is strong. While we join celebrations, we must also stay vigilant to ensure that the progress so far does not backslide, that we continue to take steps – however small – towards full equality for LGBTIQ people everywhere.

Pride Month has also been different this year due to the eruption of cities around the US and the world in protest against racially motivated police brutality. In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement Pride Month 2020 has featured activities honoring queer Black activists and leaders, reflecting on the intersections between the movements for LGBTIQ equality and racial justice, fighting oppression and police brutality in all forms, and centralizing the fight against racism within the fight for global LGBTIQ equality.