A new report released last week by the Pew Research Center reveals alarming data about attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities around the world. Here are a few statistics that shine a spotlight on the countries in which AJWS works:
- In El Salvador, 35 percent of survey respondents believe the LGBTI community should be accepted, whereas 62 percent do not;
- In Kenya, 8 percent of survey respondents believe the LGBTI community should be accepted, whereas 90 percent do not;
- In Uganda, 4 percent of survey respondents believe the LGBTI community should be accepted, whereas 96 percent do not.
These attitudes are symptomatic of the oppression LGBTI people face on a regular basis—the loss of their jobs, unequal access to healthcare and limited opportunities for education. LGBTI people are ostracized, rejected, threatened and assaulted just for living their lives.
It gets worse.
In 76 countries, people can be arrested for having sex with someone of the same gender. In five of those countries, they can be given the death penalty.
Across the developing world, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) supports the rights of LGBTI people to come out, speak out, collaborate and pursue the same ideals that the LGBTI community seeks here in the United States: recognition, inclusion, security and equality.
On a daily basis, the grassroots activists whom AJWS supports in Cambodia, El Salvador, Haiti, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere in the developing world, put their lives on the line to defend the rights of LGBTI people.
Despite acute risks, these grassroots activists display resilience and creativity in mobilizing powerful movements for social change. For example, our partner in Kenya, Persons Marginalised and Aggrieved (PEMA Kenya), is working with religious leaders and police officers in the coastal town of Mombasa to break down barriers, combat stigma and discrimination, and build trust to foster acceptance for LGBTI Kenyans.
We will continue to stand in solidarity with LGBTI people by supporting our partners’ efforts to secure fundamental human rights—for today’s communities and for generations to come.
Rebecca Kaplan is the Senior Press Officer at American Jewish World Service.