June 16, 2021

Governments around the world are using laws to silence LGBTIQ civil society

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Read online: https://www.outrightinternational.org/content/governments-around-world-are-using-laws-silence-lgbtiq-civil-society
Download map: https://www.outrightinternational.org/righttoregister

Today, OutRight Action International launches their latest report, The Global State of LGBTI Organizing: The Right to Register. The report highlights a phenomenon in which governments are trying to silence a growing movement for equality by preventing formation and registration of LGBTIQ civil society organizations. This has been happening amidst an intense crackdown and large-scale arrests of LGBTQ people around the globe over the last year in places like Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Tanzania and more.

The report finds that LGBTIQ organizations are unable to register or cannot be found in 85 of 194 countries.

Maria Sjodin, Deputy Executive Director, OutRight Action International, comments on the report,

“History shows that progress on LGBTIQ rights have come through activism and visibility. When states suppress LGBTIQ organizations, they are really trying to stop LGBTIQ people from gaining basic human rights and equality.”

Without a registration status many funders are unable to support LGBTIQ organizations and sometimes even opening an organizational bank account is impossible. Non registered LGBTIQ organizations may not be able to meet with government officials, and sometimes not even hold their own meetings without breaking the law. Without legal recognition groups can be forced to go underground, avoid public activism, be relegated to a hidden social network or group, or to even work illegally. In the worst cases, they experience state surveillance, indiscriminate arrests, and state sanctioned violence.

Dr Felicity Daly, Global Research Coordinator and author of the report, remarks,

“The data we have collected for this study shows that in many countries LGBTIQ organizations are unable to register in the same ways that organizations serving any other population can. We found that currently there are 55 countries where LGBTIQ organizations cannot register and 30 countries in the world that have no organizations openly serving LGBTIQ people. Hopefully when this analysis is revised in years to come these statistics will have decreased and we will be able to measure even greater growth of strong and sustainable organizations serving LGBTIQ people.”

The study finds that many organizations globally cannot register if they explicitly state their aim to serve LGBTIQ people or address their concerns. Governments often deny registration on religious and moral grounds, to limit the fundamental freedom of assembly, and have gone so far as to call LGBTIQ organizations a threat to national security.

In-depth case studies from Belize, China, Lebanon, Germany, Nigeria, Russia, St Lucia, Singapore, Tanzania and Tunisia present the experiences of 22 LGBTIQ civil society leaders seeking or maintaining their registration status.

Interviews can be scheduled for reporters wanting to speak with activists from Nigeria, Singapore, Tunisia, Lebanon, Belize, China, and Saint Lucia who have been impacted by registration laws.



Every day around the world, LGBTIQ people’s human rights and dignity are abused in ways that shock the conscience. The stories of their struggles and their resilience are astounding, yet remain unknown—or willfully ignored—by those with the power to make change. OutRight Action International, founded in 1990 as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, works alongside LGBTIQ people in the Global South, with offices in six countries, to help identify community-focused solutions to promote policy for lasting change. We vigilantly monitor and document human rights abuses to spur action when they occur. We train partners to expose abuses and advocate for themselves. Headquartered in New York City, OutRight is the only global LGBTIQ-specific organization with a permanent presence at the United Nations in New York that advocates for human rights progress for LGBTIQ people.

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