Political ideology, economic development, and religion all play a part in shaping one’s perception of our community. The West fight for change all the time in this respect; organisations for us are rife in the UK and US. But though the majority of the world have seen major legislative and societal change for LGBTQ+ rights — we are still amidst a huge global divide.
Promoting and achieving change in more hostile countries is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about mobilising a collective large and passionate enough to get attention. Here, strength is in numbers — and there are so many ways to accomplish this.
From volunteering for established, international organisations to fighting for justice from the comfort of your own home, there’s something everyone can do to unify and support our community, worldwide.
Helping through organisations
Inter and national LGBTQ+ organisations such as Stonewall and Astraea offer spaces for you to dedicate time and/or money to help our community around the world. Volunteering for larger organisations like this is especially useful if you’re fairly new to advocating. There are campaigns, resources and people well-equipped to aiding you in your activism journey.
- Show solidarity. Stonewall has some great resources like stickers, posters and even cool t-shirts.
- Start locally. Find LGBT services or groups close to you and begin helping there. Alongside giving back to the community, you’ll be gaining useful experience for potentially larger projects in the future.
- Go global. Ilga offers opportunities for people with a wide range of skills to volunteer their time and help LGBTQ+ people across the world. They need people participating in online communities, proofreading documents, translating reports, and even shooting video clips for their campaigns.
- This one seems almost reductive in its simplicity, but charities and organisations can’t do the amazing work they do without donations.
If you’d like to learn more about Stonewall’s endeavours to help the worldwide LGBTQ+ community, watch this video about their campaign Out of the Margins, an international project championed by Stonewall and comprising twenty-four human rights organisations to advocate for the rights of lesbians, bi women and trans people. Additionally, our social purpose pages have a great directory of charities and resources you can check out.
This is a great way to utilise your voice and connect with your local MP about global LGBTQ+ rights. It can be done individually or as a combined force.
It’s important to engage with the UK government about international issues. Powerful diplomatic relations, especially with Commonwealth countries, means Britain can provide useful and influential allyship. Governmental access to policy-makers in countries with limited LGBTQ+ rights helps influence hostile nations. Furthermore, the UK government has stated it wants an end to this inequality. As democratic citizens, we can apply pressure to this statement through something as small as an email or letter.
Tips for effective lobbying
Here are a few ways to really ensure your voice is heard. Some might seem obvious, but they’re imperative for catching your MP’s attention.
- Identify yourself. State who you are and why you feel so strongly about this issue.
- Give a clear and concise testimony. Make your opener especially persuasive, punchy and above all, honest.
- Make it personal. It’s always better to craft your own letter than finding a template and adding the relevant names/information.
- Take the time to research your MP’s previous work on the issue. This will establish areas of mutuality and demonstrate your commitment.
It’s also worth brushing up on general governmental action and proposed ideas concerning the matter at hand. In late November, Boris Johnson publicly aired his commitment to delivering British leadership in funding Global LGBTQ+ rights.
Build a social media campaign: becoming an online activist
In 2020, spreading awareness through social media is one of the most important ways to mobilise and inform the masses. When we share and ‘promote’ information about global issues we think need more recognition, we are teaching. Take this article, for instance. You’re now (hopefully) thinking more about how to help LGBTQ+ people with less rights than us around the world.
Social media is key for highlighting news that might not reach mainstream media. The EndSARS hashtag is an example of this; in October, people in Nigeria and across the world took to the streets to protest the violent and arbitrary powers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. It’s devastating for all of Nigeria, and is a power that greatly affects the LGBTQ+ community there. Those ‘appearing queer’ get beaten or killed for it. This news isn’t as topical now in terms of social media shelf life, but it’s definitely still an issue. Gal-dem has a great article about ways to help.
How do I construct an effective online campaign?
Though internet activism is popularly termed ‘slacktivism’ this can be a fruitful way to organise your internet community and break out of your social media echo chamber. It’s more work than it seems, but the rewards and reach possible are boundless.
Here are some tips for building a social media campaign:
- Make content you’re passionate about. There are so many forms of content out there. Perhaps you’re a writer. Maybe you’re more into graphic design or videography. You might want to create a new community of like-minded people or fundraise. Whatever it is, utilise your skills and areas of interest to best suit you.
- Be consistent. Establishing a presence online can be hard going, especially if you don’t have too many followers to begin with. But it’s all part of the process — if you put out regular, quality content, the right people will find and support you.
- Interact with the world-wide LGBTQ+ community. Perhaps this is a no-brainer, but it’s crucial. Follow activists and icons to learn and attract a never-ending group of focused, likeminded people.
- Start petitions. Global signatures have the potential to marry online activism with governmental action.
There are countless online spaces, forums and influential people doing staggering and necessary work. The LGBTQ+ experiences of achieving legislative and social change have been and still are too slow, but like you, we’ll carry on doing all we can to change this.
By Jasmine Hurford
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