Nearly half of the world’s countries do not allow LGBTIQ groups to organize, with many facing the threat of arrests or state-sanctioned violence, a new report has found.
Just 56 per cent of countries – 109 countries out of 194 – freely allow such groups, according to analysis by advocacy group OutRight Action International published this week.
The study found 55 countries where LGBTIQ advocacy groups do exist but aren’t able to receive state authorisation, such as in Russia and Lebanon.
Outright could not find any groups advocating for LGBTIQ citizens in 30 countries, including Malaysia, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
“The data we have collected for this study shows that in many countries LGBTIQ organizations are unable to register in the same ways that organizations serving any other population can,” the report’s author Dr Felicity Daly said.
“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.”
Dr Daly said she hopes when the analysis is revised in years to come these statistics will have decreased.
OutRight Action International deputy executive director Maria Sjodin said history had shown progress on LGBTIQ rights “has come through activism and visibility.”
“When states suppress LGBTIQ organizations, they are really trying to stop LGBTIQ people from gaining basic human rights and equality,” she said.
"When states suppress LGBTIQ organizations, they are really trying to stop LGBTIQ people from gaining basic human rights and equality.” ~ Maria Sjödin, Deputy ED on @OutRightIntl's latest report on #LGBTIQ groups banned from organizing. https://t.co/Ap9g4zawtw #HumanRights pic.twitter.com/eZ5z4ypGKK
— OutRight (@OutRightIntl) August 7, 2018
Jean Chong, co-founder of Sayoni, an LGBTQ rights organization based in Singapore, told Reuters activists are often blocked from offically registering as an LGBTIQ group in the country and it was difficult to operate without official permission.
“When groups cannot register they cannot effectively raise funds, so it limits their ability to do things like research and collect data and do substantive advocacy around these issues,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“It is impossible to get an office space and you cannot ask for donations publicly as you are not a legal entity.”
Many groups instead register under broader terms, such as general human rights organizations, Chong said.
Last weekend, Russian police detained around 25 LGBTIQ rights activists who took part in an unsanctioned rally in St Petersburg in defiance of the rally being ban.
A law passed in Russia in 2013 threatens anyone promoting gay “propaganda” towards minors with fines and prison terms.