Governments Around the World Are Using Laws to Silence LGBTIQ Civil Society

Last week, OutRight Action International launches their latest report, The Global State of LGBTI Organising: The Right to Register.

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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 organisations. 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 global state of LGBTIQ organising: the right to register
The global state of LGBTIQ organising: the right to register
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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 organisations and sometimes even opening an organisational bank account is impossible. Non registered LGBTIQ organisations 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 organisations are unable to register in the same ways that organisations 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 organisations 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 organisations 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.

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