Pride Month is the annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots where courageous members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stood up to police brutality and discrimination at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This resistance galvanized the LGBT community and gave birth to the modern LGBT rights movement.
While Pride Month is a celebration of the LGBT community, it also reminds us to shine a light on those still struggling to realize equality and human rights.
Many countries have or have proposed legislation that criminalizes homosexuality. This criminalization of people based solely on their sexual orientation violates state’s obligations under international human rights treaties and law. Systematic discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity reinforces the challenges faced by the LGBT community and can be used to permit unjust homophobic or transphobic violence.
Anyone detained or imprisoned solely because of their homosexuality – including those individuals prosecuted for having sex in circumstances which would not be criminal for heterosexuals, or for their gender identity – are considered to be prisoners of conscience.
In Botswana, under Penal Code Section 164, homosexuality is criminalized and punishable with prison time. Botswana must decriminalize homosexuality to prevent this human rights violation. Action by Botswana would be particularly crucial as Botswana wields significant influence with its African neighbors. By supporting its LGBT citizens and pressuring its neighbors to do the same, Botswana has the opportunity to be a human rights leader on this issue. Take action here to encourage Botswana to decriminalize homosexuality.
LGBT rights are also being threatened in Uganda, where the parliament recently considered a law that would have outlawed homosexuality and imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Pressure from local grassroots activists and organizations such as Amnesty International pushed the Ugandan parliament to dissolve without debating or voting on the bill; however, this great relief is tempered by the possibility that the bill will be reintroduced in the new session of Parliament.
Amid these on-going crises, join us this month as we celebrate Pride and work to shine a light on the need for equality and human rights for all. Take action now by downloading the 2011 Pride Kit with information and resources on how you can join us in ending discrimination against LGBT people around the world.