Last month, the Bay Area celebrated Pride with unshakeable spirit. For LGBTI people who have worked to express their rights in the U.S., it was an opportunity to look back on and take pride in all that has been accomplished.
Following the tragic shooting in Orlando, though, we also mourned and grieved the lives lost—many of them LGBT people. That brutal event reminded us that there is work to be done, both here at home and in the countries we serve.
In more than one-third of the countries in the world, it is literally illegal to be gay. By illegal, I mean it is criminalized and punishable by imprisonment and, in 10 countries, death. In these countries, LGBTI people not only live in deep fear of the police and government officials, but they experience discrimination from their families, loved ones, employers, landlords and healthcare providers.
For several years, AJWS has been financially supporting a coalition of activists in Uganda who are tirelessly mobilizing opposition to anti-gay legislation and safeguarding the rights of LGBTI people in all spheres of public life: employment, healthcare and education. The activists we support do this work at great risk to their personal safety.
But even with recent victories by AJWS’s grantees against anti-homosexuality legislation in the courts, state-sanctioned hate against LGBTI Ugandans still looms as a threat. The deep sense of homophobia in Uganda remains unchanged, and it will be an uphill battle to create lasting progress in gay rights.
I invite you to take a closer look at this and other injustices that AJWS grantees are fighting around the world. Driven by powerful social movements, LGBTI people are coming out, speaking out, collaborating and pursuing recognition, inclusion, security and equality. And our supporters in the U.S. are vocal advocates for laws and policies that protect their rights and ensure a brighter future.
Thank you for all your support of the grantees of AJWS,
Executive Director, San Francisco and Western Region
AJWS Bay Area Upcoming Events
Peninsula Books Beyond Borders
Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
The home of Ruthann Richter
Address provided upon RSVP
Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee led a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia—and whose demonstrations culminated in the election of Africa’s first female head of state. Mighty Be Our Powers is Gbowee’s extraordinary story, written in her own words. The book chronicles Gbowee’s very personal response to extreme adversity. Her vivid account gives readers a closer look at Gbowee’s multinational efforts to empower women to bring peace to their countries.
Marin Books Beyond Borders
However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
Writer and journalist Aimee Molloy shares a personal account of the events that inspired communities throughout Africa to abandon the traditional practice of female genital cutting. The story traces the journey of renowned human rights activist Molly Melching, founder of Tostan—a longtime AJWS grantee that helped communities across the continent bring about this important change. More than a biography, However Long the Night is proof that knowledge of human rights can ignite large-scale social progress.