Five Things You Can Do to Expand LGBTI Rights Globally

What can you do to promote and expand LGBTI rights around the world? A group of committed LGBTI advocates answered this question and discussed many other issues facing the LGBTI community during the first ever “Progress of Pride: LGBTI Rights” international web chat, hosted at the U.S. State Department. From the power of storytelling, to the importance of inclusion and diversity, this discussion demonstrates that progress can and does happen.

Here are five takeaways from the “Progress of Pride: LGBTI Rights” web chat.

1.Push for Inclusion

“Our ability to put a face to these issues, to talk about the underlying foundation – is an issue of equality. We’re talking about a community that has far too long been excluded from national dialogues, and who should no longer be expected to live in the shadows.” – Special Envoy Randy Berry, @RandyBerry United States Department of State

Special Envoy Berry poses for a photo at the Sao Paolo Pride Parade in June 2015. [State Department photo]
Special Envoy Berry poses for a photo at the Sao Paolo Pride Parade in June 2015. [State Department photo]
2. Share Your Story

“Storytelling is just critical, it’s critical because it humanizes the issue and everybody can relate when it becomes something personal.” – Judy Shephard, @WyoJudyShepard, LGBTI Rights Advocate and Founding President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

3. Connect with Activists Around the World

“We are part of a global community, and we’re all connected through our sheer humanity. It’s important as global citizens to support one another, to stand up for one another – fight for all of us to be seen as equal and deserving of dignity, respect, love, and acceptance.” -Michele Josue, @MicheleJosue, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and director of “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” @MyFriendMatt

Members of LGBT carry a huge rainbow flag as they march around the Rizal Park to celebrate the annual "Pride March"in Manila, Philippines. [AP Photo]
Members of LGBT carry a huge rainbow flag as they march around the Rizal Park to celebrate the annual “Pride March”in Manila, Philippines. [AP Photo]
4. Focus on Diversity

“We hold it to be a fundamental human value that people must be able to live as their authentic selves.” -Jason Marsden, @MattShepardFDN, President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

An activist in Ukraine's first gay pride demonstration seen through the rainbow flag during the action in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 25, 2013. [AP Photo]
An activist in Ukraine’s first gay pride demonstration seen through the rainbow flag during the action in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 25, 2013. [AP Photo]
5. Never Lose Hope

“Things do change. And when they start changing, they can change really fast.” -Felix Bergsson, @FelixBergsson

An American flag and a rainbow colored flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 27, 2015. [AP Photo]
An American flag and a rainbow colored flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 27, 2015. [AP Photo]
In the words of Special Envoy Berry: “LGBTI equality is not and should not be merely a political or diplomatic issue, the promotion of the dignity and human rights of LGBTI persons affects all of us.” Whether this is speaking up at work or school when we see an injustice occurring, or connecting with activists globally, each of us has the opportunity to push for inclusion, diversity, and respect for all.

About the Author: Makeda Yohannes serves as a Public Affairs Assistant in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.

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