Three weeks ago, Caleb Orozco, the founder of an organization called United Belize Action Movement (Unibam), succeeded in overturning the small Caribbean nation’s long-standing anti-sodomy law. Some believe that case might have a ripple effect in the region, since neighboring country still harbors similar laws.
In May of this year, Sulique Waqa, the creative director of an organization lobbying for transgender equality in Fiji and the Pacific called Haus of Khameleon, met with the police commissioner to discuss transwomen’s access to judicial services and ways to improve upon them.
In 2014, Dr. Frank Mugisha and Pepe Julian Onziema, both leaders of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), moved forward with a case against U.S.-based evangelist Scott Lively for his direct influence in the passing of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act. The case also sets an important precedent by acknowledging that persecution pertaining to sexual orientation violates international law.
Same-sex sexual relations are illegal in over 70 countries (to contextualize, that’s about 40% of the world) and punishable by death in a dozen of these. Local non-profits and their brave leaders are absolutely critical for the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world who are looking for advocates, a community, a safe environment, and resources pertaining to sexual health.
Next Saturday, dozens of web developers, graphic designers, and copywriters will volunteer their time in New York office to build websites for ten such groups fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in their respective countries.
This event marks the launch of the Out in Tech Digital Corps, which aims to provide web services to activists around the world. By creating a digital platform, Out in Tech volunteers will streamline the ways in which these unsung heroes share information with their members, archive important documents, fundraise, and generally raise awareness on LGBTQ+ rights in their home countries.
The power of technology in the fight for equal rights is undeniable, from large tech companies successfully rallying against North Carolina’s anti-gay law this past May to social apps that enable queer people to find each other and communicate. That said, technology is only as powerful as the people who use it (hopefully for good), and the Out in Tech Digital Corps aims to leverage its 10,000+ members in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in support of the amazing work of ten organizations from Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe among others.
Gary Goldman is head of Out in Tech’s New York chapter. Out in Tech is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that unites the LGBTQ tech community