A report released by OutRight Action International (OAI) — a group addressing LGBTQ human rights violations around the world — found there are 55 countries that forbid LGBTQ groups from forming and an additional 30 have no national LGBTQ groups whatsoever, denying queer citizens any sort of organized advocates to help fight for civil and human rights.
Many countries require non-governmental organizations to register with the government before they can legally operate. If they don’t register, they’re forbidden from getting associated bank accounts, collecting donations, holding meetings, having public demonstrations or meeting with government officials.
Dr. Felicity Daly, Global Research Coordinator and author of the report entitled “The Global State of LGBTIQ Organizing: The Right to Register,” tells Hornet, “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.”
When LGBTQ organizations aren’t allowed to legally register as such, some re-register using neutral language in their aims and objectives to hide the fact that they work with LGBTQ people. But this makes it hard for other queer people to find them when they need them most.
Many anti-LGBTQ governments don’t have laws explicitly forbidding registration by LGBTQ groups. Rather, officials can simply use vague wording to deny registration to any groups the government finds disapproving.
If they’re especially repressive, the government can monitor the person who submitted the application, learn more about their associates and then harass them with state surveillance, indiscriminate arrests, state-sanctioned violence or even list them as threats to national security, OAI says.
In the 30 countries where there are no LGBTQ groups whatsoever — mostly in Africa and the Middle East — LGBTQ citizens are essentially left to navigate the sociocultural and legal landscape alone (or to try and find general help online), leaving them vulnerable to greater discrimination, harassment or, worse, with no place to turn for help.
As a result, non-registered LGBTQ activists often go underground, organizing illegally as government subversives, leaving them open to danger or harassment and arrest.
While OIA doesn’t always suggest that LGBTQ groups try and pressure their governments for registration, the organization also recognizes that non-registered LGBTQ groups will struggle to continue serving their community, lacking the open funding and public promotion needed to survive in the long term.