Sound the Alarm

Filed under: International


HRC’s Sound the Alarm initiative raises the visibility of incidents around the world in which LGBTQ people are experiencing instances of violence or other severe attacks on their rights or well-being. We track and shine a spotlight on these incidents and provide ways to support affected LGBTQ communities.

Our objectives through the Sound the Alarm initiative are to:

  • Educate about incidents in a country that negatively affect LGBTQ people.
  • Support LGBTQ communities and advocates.
  • Prevent or halt incidents from occurring or developing.

The type of situations highlighted include, but are not limited to: instances of anti-LGBTQ violence and hate crimes, government scapegoating, persecution or censorship, criminalization of consensual same-sex relations between adults and imposition of restrictions on human rights advocacy. Not all attacks on LGBTQ people are included here, though.

In determining whether to add a country to Sound the Alarm, HRC considers whether an incident is systemic, time-sensitive, severe or shows signs of developing into a severe situation and whether HRC’s engagement can help prevent or halt negative incidents from occurring or developing. HRC will not include a country on Sound the Alarm when its engagement would endanger local LGBTQ community members.

HRC regularly updates Sound the Alarm and periodically will remove a country if there is no longer a severe or time-sensitive threat to LGBTQ people that HRC’s advocacy can influence.


Learn more below about what's happening in: 


Conservative forces increasingly targeted the LGBTQ community in Poland in the weeks leading up to the October parliamentary elections.

In the lead up to the elections, LGBTQ people faced dangerous verbal assaults by politicians and the Catholic Church, including from the leader of the incumbent conservative party (PiS) who referred to LGBTQ advocacy as “imported” and “a threat to the Polish identity” and archbishops in Krakow and Bialystok who stated that LGBTQ people threaten Poland with a “rainbow plague” and that LGBTQ Pride is “blasphemy against God.” This disturbing language galvanized local governments in Poland into declaring themselves “LGBT free zones” and incited physical attacks and hate-filled speech from anti-LGBTQ opponents at Pride celebrations.

Even as these incidents, intended to position LGBTQ people and their rights as a wedge issue in the coming elections, occurred, the Trump-Pence administration failed to speak out in support of LGBTQ people’s human rights in Poland.

LGBTQ people and their allies resisted the hateful attacks. Many have and continue to claim their identity as a badge of pride, using the hashtag #JestemLGBT (“I am LGBT”) to publicly show solidarity with other LGBTQ people.

HRC has taken a number of actions:

  • HRC has sounded the alarm on these recent attacks, sharing what people need to know about the situation in Poland and how to support the LGBTQ community there.
  • HRC has worked with international organizations and influential figures to bring attention to the targeting of LGBTQ people and the scare-tactics of conservative forces in Poland.
  • HRC has supported KPH, a leading LGBTQ organization in Poland, to build its capacity to further amplify the voices of local advocates.
  • HRC has called on U.S. State Department leadership to push back against the wave of anti-LGBTQ attacks in Poland. 

You can take action in support of the human rights of LGBTQ people in Poland by:



Since 2017, more than 100  people have been rounded up, detained and tortured in the Russian republic of Chechnya because they were suspected of being gay or bisexual.  As many as 20 were murdered by the state or by victims’ own families, who had been encouraged by their government to conduct “honor killings” to “cleanse” their family names. You can play a role in halting the atrocities in Chechnya.  Read more and take action here.

HRC has taken a number of actions to draw attention to these crimes against humanity:

  • HRC has repeatedly and publicly called on the Trump-Pence Administration to speak out and help refugees fleeing the region.

  • HRC has worked with the U.S. Congress to condemn the atrocities and call for action against the Chechen government.

  • In Helsinki in July 2018, HRC projected an enormous message onto the Presidential Palace the night before a summit between Trump and Putin, demanding that the two leaders immediately investigate the anti-LGBTQ crimes against humanity in Chechnya.

  • HRC sounded the alarm on a renewed bout of persecution and violence in which approximately 40 LGBTQ people have been detained and two killed since December 2018.

You can continue to take action by calling on Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo to speak out and help protect the lives of LGBTQ people in Chechnya and around the world.



LGBTQ people have been subjected to widespread social ostracism and violent attack from government officials, religious leaders and vigilantes in since early 2016 in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

LGBTQ people have been arbitrarily arrested and outed to the media, transgender women have had their hair shaved off in public, and some local governments have sponsored vigilante squads to harass LGBTQ people. In 2017, HRC joined a coalition to denounce the growing persecution of LGBTQ people in Indonesia.

Gay men have been brutally flogged in front of thousands of jeering spectators in Aceh, an autonomous province governed by a strict form of Sharia law.

In the Indonesian Parliament, proposed changes to the country's criminal code would criminalize sex outside of marriage. This would effectively make sex for a great many LGBTQ people illegal, as same-sex marriage is also not legal in Indonesia. This and other proposed reforms drove tens of thousands of Indonesians to take to the streets in protest in the fall of 2019.

HRC continues to raise visibility about what is happening in Indonesia to lawmakers, policymakers, multilateral institutions and our members and supporters.


In October 2018 the regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam announced he would authorize mass arrests of LGBTQ people. While the Tanzanian national government distanced itself from the inflammatory remarks of the commissioner, LGBTQ people have reported feeling under threat.

International condemnation was swift. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement expressing alarm.  The World Bank, the European Union, and the U.S. government also released statements expressing concern. Denmark cut $10 million in aid to Tanzania citing the worsening human rights situation.

While the massive arrests never materialized, a few weeks after the regional politician’s comments, police arrested several gay men in Zanzibar.

HRC has taken a number of actions:

  • HRC has worked to raise visibility about what is happening in Tanzania to lawmakers, policymakers, multilateral institutions like the World Bank and our members and supporters.

  • Hosted Tanzanian LGBTQ advocates as 2019 Global Fellows and Global Innovators to provide opportunities for the exchange of ideas and practices for advancing LGBTQ equality.