Saturday, February 11, 2012

LGBTI Rights: The Rhetoric and The Reality

In right-wing America, dominated by hate groups that pump out demonizing propaganda, like the Venango County-based American Family Association of Pennsylvania, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are an enemy to be feared, criminalized, exterminated.

The reality, however, is quite different, as summed up in this description of the Open Society Institute's LGBTI Rights Initiative:

Throughout the world lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people are the target of human rights violations. They are killed, tortured, raped, and sexually assaulted simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. More than 80 countries consider consensual, adult homosexual relationships criminal behavior. Penalties include lengthy jail sentences, torture, and forced psychiatric treatment. In at least seven countries, individuals can be executed for homosexual conduct.

Even in countries that do not criminalize homosexual conduct, hate violence remains prevalent. Other serious human rights violations against LGBTI people include invasions of privacy; arbitrary detention; and discrimination in employment, family rights, housing, education, and health care. Additionally, when LGBTI people try to organize to assert recognition of their basic human rights, their rights to freedom of expression and assembly are frequently denied, and they often face both government and nonstate violence and harassment.

Despite these challenges and the pervasive discrimination that exists, more and more LGBTI people are engaging in a vibrant and growing global social movement to advance their rights. However, while these rights groups now exist in every region of the world, they continue to face major obstacles including social stigma, lack of recognition by broader civil society communities, and limited resources.

The Open Society Foundations seek to empower LGBTI communities to promote and defend their human rights. The LGBTI Rights Initiative will provide funding to local rights groups and regional networks in the developing world. It will also support global advocacy initiatives that advance LGBTI rights and complement efforts at the local level.

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