Forces of Pride Worldwide

I hope you are enjoying a relaxing and rejuvenating summer. I love walking down Market Street in San Francisco and seeing the LGBTQI flags proudly waving. The celebration of Pride is palpable and, after a long and painful struggle, so well-deserved. But we cannot take this for granted. There are lessons to be learned and shared with those who still struggle for their rights as LGBTQI people in the U.S. and abroad.

While we’ve seen progress in so many countries—for instance, last summer India’s Supreme Court struck down Sec. 377, a British colonial law that criminalized homosexuality—we sadly also saw Kenya uphold their own homophobic law last month. I want to applaud our Kenyan grantees who are not seeing this as a defeat, but rather as an obstacle to overcome. Their tenacity is inspiring and AJWS remains committed to supporting their struggle.

A few days ago, Robert Bank, AJWS President and CEO, sent you our current Stories of Hope, highlighting some of the successes our grantees have achieved in the past few months. I hope you will take the time to read them and share our appreciation of those who continue to struggle to realize their human rights.

Finally, thank you for your continued generosity and shared vision. Together, we can create a better and more righteous world for all. We simply could not serve these incredible grantees without your belief and investment.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about our work. Have a wonderful summer.

Alon Shalev
AJWS Executive Director
San Francisco and the Western Region

Forces of Pride


Jewish Voices for LGBTQI Rights

As Jews and global citizens, the AJWS community never wavers in our belief that all people deserve to live safe, healthy and dignified lives—no matter who they are or whom they love. In this touching video, members of the AJWS community share what motivates them, as Jews, to fight for the rights and dignity of LGBTQI people everywhere.


Celebrating “Forces of Pride,” past and present

This year, as we celebrate World Pride in New York City and mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we are celebrating the activists around the world who have paved the way for a more equal world.

Spotlight on Thailand


From the West Village to Chiang Mai

Reporting from this year’s historic Chiang Mai Pride March in Thailand organized by several AJWS grantees, AJWS’s own Stuart Schear describes how local LGBTQI people triumphed by pulling off a big, beautiful march, the first in ten years, after the last one was halted by violent anti-LGBT thugs. This experience brought back his own memories of listening as a 12-year-old boy to news coverage of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, as well as the exhilaration he experienced marching in his first Pride march as an out gay man in 1979 in New York City.


Meet Thailand’s transgender trailblazer

Photo by Allison Joyce

Thailand is not the “paradise” for transgender people that it’s beauty queens and colorful cabaret shows might suggest. Jetsada “Note” Taesombat—co-founder of a Thai trans rights organization supported by AJWS—knows this all too well. Her mission is to “make sure my sisters don’t experience what I went through.” Get to know Note and her incredible work to promote acceptance and equality in Thai society.



What We're Reading

Pushing for the right U.S. role in Nicaragua

This op-ed by Tracey Gurd, AJWS’s Senior Director of Civil and Political Rights and Advocacy, was published on the first anniversary of the Ortega regime’s violent crackdown on the popular uprising in Nicaragua that has left hundreds killed and imprisoned and tens of thousands exiled. Gurd suggests three tools the U.S. Congress and the Administration can use to restore human rights under the brutal Ortega regime.

Miami Herald

Reuters reporters released

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters reporters who were wrongly imprisoned for over 500 days for exposing the Rohingya genocide, are finally free. While we celebrate their freedom, we know that we must keep fighting for the nearly 1 million Rohingya people are still living in limbo in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

New York Times

Why so many Guatemalans are fleeing their home country

Rabbi Flip Rice—an AJWS Global Justice Fellow and rabbi at Congregation Micah in Nashville—reflects on his powerful trip to Guatemala with AJWS. He describes meeting Anna, an indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi woman who is fighting to make life better for future generations.

The Tennessean

A setback for LGBTQI rights in Kenya

LGBTQI-rights activists had their hopes dashed—for now—that Kenya’s High Court in Nairobi would repeal the country’s anti-gay law. But they’re gearing up for the next fight. Several AJWS grantees were petitioners in the case and are now setting their sights on the Supreme Court.

The Nation

Take Action

Speak out for reproductive rights

The lives of millions of women, girls and LGBTQI people around the world are at risk because of the deadly “global gag rule.” This policy forbids U.S. global health assistance from funding organizations that provide abortion, counsel patients about abortion or advocate for reproductive rights. This ban also blocks funds from life-saving treatments these groups provide that are completely unrelated to abortion, like pap smears, maternity care and anti-HIV drugs.

We cannot remain silent with lives at risk from this immoral policy. Sign the petition to permanently repeal the global gag rule today.