Like many of you, I have been eagerly following the news about the Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality. This is undoubtedly an exciting time for our movement and I am holding my breath hoping for a historic win. It is also the time to start the community conversation about the next chapter of our movement. For me, the answer is clear: those of us in the U.S. must begin to work in solidarity with LGBTQ people around the world to improve the lives of all the members of our community.
In other parts of the world, just as in the U.S., great strides have been made. South America has seen a wave of positive legal reform, and in Europe, the number of countries offering trans people legal gender recognition is growing. Despite some of these exciting steps forward, it is important that we as an LGBTQ community are setting our sights on much more. It is going to require innovative thinking and a wide array of community-specific tactics. We must strive to amplify the work that is already underway around the globe and move our community to join in and take action.
In seventy-eight countries, homosexuality is still a criminal offense and in too many places, corrupt governments are using homophobia as a wedge issue to distract from their failure to provide for their people. Violence also remains a key concern for us around the world. For example, since 2008, activists have documented over 800 murders of transgender people. Sometimes the perpetrators who act against us represent governments, themselves, as happened with police raids on a gay bar in Kenya last year. Other times, it is their lack of action to protect us that makes officials complicit, as when Russia ignored gun violence and gas attacks on gay clubs in Moscow. There are countless other acts of violence around the world that go unreported and ignored by local officials.
If equality is going to be achieved, it is crucial that we do more on a global scale. We can do this by looking to international groups like the Beijing Gender Health and Education Institute (BGHEI), an organization working to raise awareness about sexual diversity and equality in Mainland Chinese society. BGHEI and their Chinese allies have the knowledge and experience to tell us what messages and tactics are right for their context. The same is true for MOSAIC (Middle East and North Africa Organization for Services, Advocacy, Integration, and Capacity Building), a holistic program committed to improving the wellness of marginalized groups in Lebanon and throughout the region. Because Lebanon is one of the few countries that has accepted the influx of Syrians displaced by the current conflict, those activists on the ground in Lebanon are in a position to identify refugee services that are LGBT-competent and affirming.
Of course we still have work to do at home. LGBTQ people in the U.S. still have no federal protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. But for far too long, many U.S. activists have not taken the time to look beyond our own borders and engage in the global conversation going on all around us.
So I am asking each of you to do two things. The first is to bring international issues into the conversation as you talk with friends and family about what happens with the Supreme Court. We want to send a clear signal that this is only the beginning. The second is to be on the lookout for new opportunities for you to reach out across borders and help the global LGBT community.
This is why we created Grindr for Equality three years ago - to use our unique ability to reach men across the globe regarding equality, health and safety - and we are shifting our focus on international initiatives. We are excited to celebrate every hard-won victory, including this summer when the Supreme Court delivers their verdict. And if we continue this work within an international frame, we will have so much more to celebrate beyond marriage.