Rally Calls on UN to Fully Embrace LGBTQ Rights, Challenge Homophobia Worldwide

Jay Walker, an organizer at Rise and Resist. | DONNA ACETO

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | In a rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters on Sunday afternoon, September 10, activists from Rise and Resist were joined by international advocates to draw the General Assembly’s attention to the persecution of LGBTQ people worldwide.

Jay Walker, an organizer with Rise and Resist explained, “After the recent attention to the horrors being experienced by gay men in Chechnya and Indonesia, it became clear that the eve of the 2017 convening of the UN General Assembly would be the perfect time to call attention to the fact that in over 80 UN member nations LGBTQ people face either direct persecution from the government or no protection from mob violence by civilians. Even laws passed against same-sex marriage can create climates in which citizens are emboldened to physically attack LGBTQ people.”

Speakers included both activists still working on the ground in their home countries as well as refugees forced to leave their countries due to the threat of arrest or violence.

The crowd demanded that the UN takes its Universal Declaration of Human Rights to heart when it comes to queer people worldwide and also called on Americans to hold the homophobic Trump administration to account at home.

Edafe Okporo is a Nigerian human right activist living in New York City, who fled his home country and was detained by US officials as an asylum seeker before being granted admission here. | DONNA ACETO

Hass Agili, the only refugee admitted to the US from Libya for the entire year of 2016. | DONNA ACETO

Yonatan Matheus, a Venezuelan social worker and community activist, is the founder of the LGBTQ Asociación Civil Venezuela Diversa. | DONNA ACETO

Julian Sanjivan left Malaysia for New York City in 2012 as part of a State Department-funded fellowship, after which he applied for asylum due to his harassment by police officials in his home country. | DONNA ACETO

Lyosha Gorshkov is co-president at RUSA LGBT, the Russian-speaking American LGBTQ association, who taught political science and gender studies at a Russian university until threats from government security forces led him to flee that nation in 2014. | DONNA ACETO