As Pride Month has ended, I am reminded of the words of the great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer that “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” This does not exclude people who identify with the LGBTQIA community.

The original organizers of Pride Month chose this month to pay homage to the Stonewall uprising in June 1969 in New York City, which helped spark the modern gay rights movement.
Pride gatherings are rooted in the arduous history of minority groups who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are.

People around the world have faced violence and inequality and sometimes torture, even execution because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of our selves and should never lead to discrimination or abuse. Regardless of belief systems, everyone is entitled to human rights and freedom to live and love.

Human Rights Watch works for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender peoples’ rights, and work with activists representing a multiplicity of identities and issues. They document and expose abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide, including torture, killing and executions, arrests under unjust laws, unequal treatment, censorship, medical abuses, discrimination in health and jobs and housing, domestic violence, abuses against children, and denial of family rights and recognition.

Protections for LGBTQIA workers and marriage equality are now the law, but there’s still have a long way to go to firmly establish equal rights in all contexts. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people still face discrimination and without clear legal remedies in many contexts.

Everyone deserves to feel safe and we can all be an advocate. Speak up, stay receptive to new ideas and opinions, listen, learn and stay informed.

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