Post submitted by Ashley Fowler, former HRC Global Coordinator
As LGBT rights are gaining salience around the world, more and more people are finding the courage to come out to their friends, family and the broader community. The stories of these brave individuals have the power to change not only policy and legislation, but also the hearts and minds of those with whom they interact.
While there are now 19 countries that recognize full marriage equality, there are still 75 countries that criminalize same-sex activity and three countries that have laws inhibiting LGBT advocacy. Most alarming, though, are those 10 countries in which same-sex activity is still punishable by death.
It is in these countries that individual stories can become so influential and powerful. From Uganda to Kyrgyzstan, LGBT individuals are boldly proclaiming their truths and choosing to live openly and authentically, despite the increasing threat of danger or persecution. There are also countless allies coming out in these traditionally homophobic and transphobic societies to demonstrate their solidarity with the LGBT community.
Coming out, whether LGBTQ or allied, matters. No matter where you live or where you are, coming out can change hearts and minds and move people to support LGBT equality for all. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful reminders and inspirations to each other.
HRC Global hopes to continue to provide a platform and resources to help elevate these brave voices, as we recognize the importance of visibility, particularly in regions of the world where LGBT rights continue to face challenges.