Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people live in fear for their physical safety. In countries that criminalize LGBTI sexuality, identity, or gender expression, governments may incarcerate LGBTI people in dangerous prisons. Several governments punish LGBTI people with torture and execution. LGBTI people are also vulnerable to abuse outside of government punishment.
Violence—including sexual and physical assault, domestic violence, and murder—occurs at higher rates against LGBTI people than the general population. Intersex people are frequently subjected to unnecessary, irreversible forced surgery. Transgender people are murdered at staggering rates. LGBTI people are also more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Often LGBTI people will not ask for help or report violence against them because they fear they will be re-victimized by the authorities. Many are forced to leave their homes. When they have to flee their countries, LGBTI people often find that there are few services available for refugees and asylum seekers, and those that exist may fail to serve LGBTI clients with respect and care.
Human rights workers have also reported increases in societal violence that correspond to anti-LGBTI legislation. When Uganda passed its Anti-Homosexuality Act in December 2013 (it was overturned in August 2014), Sexual Minorities Uganda reported a tenfold rise in attacks on LGBTI people. The report documented mob violence, homes torched, attempted lynching, kidnapping, and torture—as well as suicides. Violence in Russia likewise increased after its “gay propaganda” law was passed in 2013.
LGBTI women are often more vulnerable to the violence women face in general due to their marginalized status. Many women are subjected to forced and coerced marriages, “corrective” rape intended to “cure” their homosexuality or bisexuality, and even torture and honor killings. Violence against LGBTI people, including but not limited to women, is a form of gender-based violence.
For many LGBTI people around the world, marriage equality is low on their list of concerns. Day-to-day survival takes priority. Fortunately, many local organizations are bravely working to change dangerous conditions and protect the LGBTI community from violence and other human rights abuses. Learn how you can support their work here.