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Joel Klausler

Joel (he/him/his) is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a master of arts degree in strategic communication and a graduate minor in human rights. His goal is to advance the stories of global LGBTI activists with purpose. Contact




While thousands of vulnerable Afghan refugees look to flee their homes, LGBTI refugees aren’t included by most countries as being vulnerable. Canada is a proud exception.


Argentina continues to lead the way in SOGI (sexual orientation gender identity) human rights. It is the first country in Latin America to now recognize the gender identity of nonbinary people — outside of Latin America, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia recognize nonbinary gender identity on national identity documents.


India, situated between Pakistan on the West and Nepal on the East, is a country with an often-misunderstood LGBTI history marked with unequal dignity and rights. Perhaps the most significant LGBTI news happened in 2018, when the Supreme Court of India decriminalized gay sex. Since then, there have been mixed outcomes.


My name is Nyasha Zhakata (Masi). I’m an out and proud 38-year-old lesbian mom of an incredible daughter. I’m an activist, human rights defender, and the Global Director of The Dream Academy, Safe Place International’s flagship program.


Daniel Arzola is a queer Venezuelan immigrant Artivist. Alturi’s Joel Klausler met Daniel at Twin Cities Pride and was captivated by his art. Their conversation evolved into a thematic expression of Daniel’s impact on communities and cultures worldwide.


Prague Pride is an NGO based in the Czech Republic (also called Czechia) which strives to make a safe environment where LGBTI people can be themselves. Alturi’s Joel Klausler recently spoke with Prague Pride’s Founder and Chairman, Czeslaw Walek, to examine how to help Ukrainian LGBTI refugees who are principal targets in Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. Additionally, Walek shared the severity of the threats facing LGBTI Ukrainians and what’s at stake for the global LGBTI community.


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Dervish Taskiranlar — Queer Cyprus Association

The Queer Cyprus Association (QCA) is a civil society movement located in the northern part of Cyprus that aims to create a world in which individuals do not face discrimination based on their language, religious belief, color, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual expression, age, or ethnicity. I spoke with Dervish Taskiranlar, the Project Assistant and Communication Officer at QCA, about this movement and the impact of the media on social attitudes towards LGBTI people. In addition, Taskiranlar shared what it is like to fight for inclusion and safety for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) in a divided nation.
By Alexandra Kuenning

Can you start by telling me a bit about yourself? How did you initially become involved in LGBTI activism?

It was about six years ago after I saw an announcement from the association for the social gathering event. I attended the event, and since then, I have been a part of the organization. 

To give some background, until 2014, we had a law against sodomy, effectively making it illegal to be gay. It was a law that had been in place since the colonial British law code. In 2007, before the Queer Cyprus Association (QCA) existed, and before people were out and proud in public, there was a considerable stigma [against being gay] — the law prohibited everything. The QCA started as an initiative against homophobia. After several advocacy meetings with the EU and other organizations, the legal text criminalizing homosexuality was lifted in Cyprus. It was replaced by more protective laws, including provisions that criminalized libel based on hate towards actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, the expression of psychological and economic violence based on these grounds, and discrimination on these grounds in accessing public services.

In 2012, the QCA became an official NGO. They held their first Pride march in 2014, but it was very low-key because it was the first time the law had changed, and hatred was still there. I went to the Pride, but I did not march since I was very new to the whole thing. Instead, I was in another part of Pride, observing the entire thing. Then a year later, I physically joined in, and I also took part in the actual organization. However, until 2016, everything was frozen for QCA. They were not very active, but they got funding from the EU’s “Unspoken” project. At the time, they had zero capacity, very few members, and the members they had were very fed up with the whole system because they had been combatting [homophobia] anonymously since 2007. Somehow, they launched a meeting in Nicosia in August 2016, and my boyfriend went. A few weeks later, he said, “Why don’t you come with me to the meeting?” I was supposed to go at that time, but I was apolitical and wasn’t involved in civil society. I was doing everything from my point of view — I suppose you can still call it activism, just in a different sense. Anyways, I went to the meeting, and since then, I’ve been a part of the QCA. I’ve been volunteering for four years, and for the last two years, I have been working professionally with EU-funded projects on human trafficking. 

What is your role in the Queer Cyprus Association?

I work in various fields, including advocacy meetings, the educational part, and the health part. In addition, I am involved in writing manifestos, arranging social activities, fundraising, and many more things. Moreover, I have been working as Project Assistant and Communication Officer in the EU-funded  LGBTI+ in Freedom from Exploitation Project (LIFE). This project aims to assist LGBTI+ people who are trafficked in the northern part of Cyprus.

Can you tell me more about the Queer Cyprus Association’s foundation?

We initially came together as the Initiative Against Homophobia (HOKI). In 2007, HOKI applied to the local authorities in the northern part of Cyprus to become a fully established and recognized association. We fought for many criminalized cases — many involving people prosecuted and headlined in the newspapers due to their sexual orientation — and supported by many other NGOs in Greece, Malta, South Cyprus, and Turkey. Then, in March 2012, HOKI went through a constitutional amendment and continued its work under its new name, the Queer Cyprus Association. The QCA aims to promote equal rights for LGBTI people in Cyprus and to eliminate discrimination based on gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We have been a member of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) since 2011.

What is it like to be LGBT in Cyprus? What about in Northern Cyprus specifically?

It’s a hard question because Cyprus is divided. I live under occupation of Turkey in the Northern part of Cyprus because I am a Turkish-speaking Cypriot. It’s hard because there is a status quo in all of Cyprus that there is a conflict, and you can see the traces, and because of that, you can see Turkey’s influence over the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The thing is, compared to Turkey, things are much, much better. For example, we can go to parliamentary meetings. 

I can see a whole lot of change since 2014. Before that, you couldn’t come out because they would arrest you, and there was violence from the police. No one was speaking about LGBTI people; it was a kind of elephant in the room — everyone knows it was there, but they would do anything to not see the elephant itself and not talk about it. 

Being LGBTI is hard in the northern part of Cyprus, but it is also hard in the Republic of Cyprus at the same time. In the northern part of Cyprus, we fight for all of these rights, but for the Republic of Cyprus, where the Greek Cypriots are living, they adopted some laws from the EU and everything came as a package deal. They were just passing all the laws they needed to be on the EU level and not violate human rights. But since in the northern part of Cyprus there is no legal government that can be part of the conventions — for example, the Istanbul Convention — it is a bit hard because when the law is violated, the conventions are not able to give any directives towards the northern part of Cyprus. While the government has adopted many of these conventions to uphold all these human rights, there is no pressure; they just implement them, but everything just remains on paper. However, the struggle of the NGOs and the level of advocacy is so intense that if we put pressure on the government, and whatever we want to do, we can do it. Somehow, we have this chance to be involved in lawmaking or in other issues. When looking at the influence we have from Turkey, due to the occupation, it doesn’t affect as much as for the Turkish people living in Turkey. But, there are emigrations and the demography is changing, so new issues come up while we are combating specific issues. Compared to the eastern bloc of the EU, I can say that Cyprus is a bit better. 

Have you seen a change over the last few years?

Absolutely! In 2008, HOKI presented a request to repeal sections 171, 172, and 173 of the Criminal Code [which criminalize persons who engage in same-sex sexual acts and make them liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of five years] along with a resolution to Fatma Ekenoğlu, the head of the Assembly of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In the resolution, we stated that the rules “provide the main framework for regulating discrimination against sexual orientation, and they have not been revised since British colonial time.”

In 2010, HOKI organized an international conference, “Solidarity and Networking Conference Cyprus 2010,” in cooperation with ILGA–Europe and hosted by the Journalists Union. The event emphasized that homosexuality is recognized as a crime in Northern Cyprus and assessed this as a “violation of human rights.”

Soon after, in July 2011, two men were arrested and charged with “unnatural intercourse,” and the judge said that they should be held in custody for a day. HOKI publicized the case and others followed suit, calling for a change in the law. In a similar incident in October 2011, five men, one of whom was a former Minister of Finance in the Republic of Cyprus, were arrested and detained on charges of “unnatural intercourse.” During remand hearings, all the detainees, apart from the former minister, reported being beaten by the police. HOKI raised the alarm at the arrests which led to protests from members of the European Parliament and international human rights organizations. HOKI also put forward that the Northern Cypriot media normalized hatred in their reporting and fed homophobic reports and comments to the public. On a more positive note, that same year, HOKI hosted ILGA-Europe’s exhibition “Different Families, Same Love” in the North part of Nicosia. The opening received positive press coverage and provided different and positive facets of the LGBTI community to the general public.

On May 17, 2016, following the open call from the QCA, together with Envision Diversity and MAGEM, the 17th May Organization Committee was formed.  As a result, eleven civil society organizations and a Gender Equality Platform representing 21 political parties, trade unions, civil society organizations co-organized a series of events and a march during the week of the International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia.

Since 2007, QCA has played an essential role in raising awareness regarding the rights of LGBTI+ people. Unfortunately, no one in society talked about LGBTI+-related issues because those issues were seen as a mere myth. However, through the advocacy efforts of the QCA, the law that prohibited sodomy was changed and replaced with a new article criminalizing hate speech toward LGBTI+ people, as discussed above. These changes affected the LGBTI+ movement positively and caused society to become more aware of LGBTI+ rights. Even though the law changed in 2014 and seven years seems like a short amount of time, the QCA achieved a lot. However, there are still lots of issues that remain untouched and need to be changed.  

Can you tell me more about the media’s reaction to LGBTI rights in the Northern part of Cyprus?

In 2011, when we raised the alarm, the media exposed people, and there were human rights violations everywhere. But when the law changed, the unions started to adopt guidelines in their agendas and governing structures to be more LGBTI-friendly and not violate human rights in terms of gender. We can see that the way that the QCA implemented the ‘Unspoken’ totally directed the media. There were media campaigns, and we researched the newspapers. We documented all the human rights violations. We created media tool kits that discussed LGBTI-sensitive language and featured examples from newspapers that illustrated inappropriate language used in their articles. We have also hosted training sessions, and we saw that the media started to treat LGBTI people a lot better because they received the training and had the toolkits in their hands. We are still monitoring the media. Each year we publish a report and do advocacy meetings with the media. Suppose we see any problems in their articles. In that case, we report them to the agency that governs the media or, since Cyprus is small, we reach out to the person and arrange a meeting to explain why what they did was wrong and make some suggestions on how it could be said better. We now see that the number of violations is much less than when we started. And recently, the government passed protective laws against hate speech in the media. 

What are some of the services you provide?

We provide many social welfare services. For example, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we provide food aid, raise money for LGBTI people who are vulnerable and provide employment counseling to increase access to employment. We also have a psychological counseling service and a legal consultancy service for the LGBTI+ community. All of these projects are free for people who are facing economic discrimination and who are in need. 

We established our solidarity line after the second Pride march due to the cases of violence. We saw a need for the solidarity line because people started posting on social media that violence was becoming more common, so we wrote a small project. We applied to Civic Space, an organization that helps all the NGOs in the northern part of Cyprus — if the NGOs are collaborating with the Greek Cypriots, they help in the Republic of Cyprus as well. As a result, we received a small grant and established our solidarity line, a confidential service that aims to answer questions about LGBTI+ struggle, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The solidarity line has been operating for four years now and is open seven days a week, from 10 am to 10 pm. Now, we are trying to increase the capacity of the solidarity line to have it operating 24/7 because we know that cases are happening after at night, especially with sex workers. 

Can you tell me more about organizing the first Pride march in Northern Cyprus in 2014? What was the public reaction?

Queer Cyprus organized the first Pride march to celebrate after lawmakers in Northern Cyprus abolished the Criminal Code provisions that punished consensual sexual acts between adult men with five years of imprisonment. Further, new provisions that criminalized libel based on hate towards actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) were adopted. Thus, the first Pride march empowered queer people and our contributions to the flourishing of humanity. 

We started with very few people — even I was not there, I was just watching it from afar. Since 2014, we have grown and grown. We created the May 17 Committee, where many political organizations, political parties, and NGOs join together and arrange everything. This intersectional structure led us to reach more people and have a more enabling environment for the entire population who come from different backgrounds and who have different political ideologies and struggles, allowing them to take action. Each year, the number of attendees increases, but the number of violence cases is equally rising. As we become more visible, the more violence there is. As everywhere else, it is a cultural shock to organize Pride months. Religion, traditions, and cultural stereotypes were used by people fighting back, claiming that this is not what is supposed to happen and should not be normalized and naturalized.

I also read that in 2019 you formalized your cooperation with the Greek Cypriot organization Accept-LGBTI Cyprus. Can you tell me more about that process? How has the island’s physical divide affected your work?

We collaborate a lot because we have a common struggle. Since 2014, we have been attending their Pride, and they have been attending our Pride. There has been some conflict between the organizations that parallel the conflict in Cyprus, but somehow we formed many joint workshops together. We joined our forces, and we attended conflict-resolution workshops and focused on our common ground. Now we can manage to collaborate because we signed a Memorandum of Understanding. We found our weak spots that we need to focus on and our sensitivities. In this way, we know our boundaries, and we know our differences and similarities. We are all Cypriots, and we are all struggling for the same thing. 

Since 2019, we have been collaborating more. Before the Covid-19 pandemic started, we sent an application to the United Nations as we thought that because Nicosia is a divided city, why not host a joint Pride? We could still do our own Pride marches on each side, but we could also have one joint event in the buffer zone where people could come from both sides and provide various activities. We thought it would be good for the peace efforts and reconciliation. Unfortunately, Covid-19 happened that year. But, what we did instead was join our forces and create an online Pride. We had one full day of Pride events, starting with the main activities. We had couples from both sides sharing their stories, and it was quite lovely to hear stories about peace and reconciliation, about how people forgot this mess that has been the history of Cyprus.

Before this, we also did some joint catering events for socializing. But, unfortunately, at that time I was at an ILGA conference so I couldn’t be there. But at the conference, there was one Turkish Cypriot, myself, and one Greek Cypriot, and we were almost crying because it was the first bi-communal, big event, and everyone was there, all the embassies were there, so somehow we had our own Pride. But we were so sad to miss the one in Cyprus because it was one of the historical moments — it even made the Washington Post!

How has Covid-19 affected your work?

Like most fields, it was hard to cope with initially, but things got smoother, and we managed to switch our training, meetings, conferences, and even parties to online platforms. Organizing with the other side of the island helped keep the bond like it was and might have made it even better, especially regarding bi-communal events. 

We have been implementing more projects in the Covid-19 pandemic. It is affecting us more financially because everyone is suffering from a financial crisis. But we became more involved and active on social media; we reached more people and created more online events, such as parties with the Greek Cypriots, gaming nights, training, seminars, and even a conference where 200 people attended. So somehow, we managed to deal with everything. We had a conference that was supposed to have a capacity of 100 people, but it turned into 300 registering and 250 active listeners for one day. It was quite nice that we managed to create this. We sent them promotional materials and kitchen catering services to their homes with credits. Somehow, we managed in the Covid-19 pandemic with different platforms, and the activism kept going in different dimensions. I think it affected us more efficiently. Financially, we reached more people who needed help, so we needed more money for food aid and other support. Still, it helped us reach more people and reach the greatest extent of the whole population because they started using social media more. 

I have an amusing story about Covid-19 and the social media events. It was, I think June, when they lifted all the curfews — before then, it was impossible to go out. We couldn’t even leave one part of the city to go to another. During this whole time, we had been doing live shows on YouTube and Facebook. When they lifted everything, I went to a beach party, and there were small restaurants around, and there was a teenager and her mom there selling food, so I went there to check the menu. I had the QCA logo on the back of my shirt, and the girl recognized me from the news somewhere, and she was like, “Are you from QCA?” and I said yes. She was acting like I was Britney Spears! Then her mum came over and explained that she loved QCA. The pandemic helped us reach this new generation and reach their level of understanding regarding activism. It’s a very nice story for me, especially to see that the mum was there as well; I hadn’t expected that reaction from her mum at all. It’s nice to see that things are changing. 

How can readers support your work?

To start, they can support us by getting closer to the organization and volunteering. They can also become regular donors and show solidarity with us to empower ourselves to make our voice more robust, make our human rights advocacy more sustainable, and reach more people by ensuring the continuity of the services we provide. This support is vital to meet the increasing demands in the Covid-19 pandemic.


Author: Dorian Coleman

Dorian Coleman is an author, researcher, and educator with a background in cultural anthropology and special education. Her work focuses on exploring the intricacies of intersectionality in the human experience. She enjoys bringing research to life through storytelling and has a genuine interest in learning more about people from all walks of life.



SEROvie in Haiti Still Awaiting Aid for LGBTQI People a Month After Earthquake

“We have written to various American allies and other organizations with no response or promises,” states project director Steeve Laguerre of SEROvie, in reference to the lack of support the LGBTQI community in Haiti has received after damage incurred by a massive earthquake coupled with tropical storm Grace on August 14. SEROvie is a community-based local organization in Haiti advocating and working for LGBTQI people for health and human rights initiatives.




Ivan Dimov, founder, and chairman of Single Step Bulgaria, bore witness to a powerful story that changed his life forever. “Six years ago, I was back in Bulgaria on vacation. I was at an event and met this kid who shared with me that he tried to commit suicide after coming out to his mom.”





Lilly Dragoeva is the Executive Director of Bilitis Foundation, the oldest active LGBTI organization in Bulgaria.  Her work experience includes diverse leadership roles, social analysis, and research, and over 15 years of volunteer work. Her own personal experiences as a bisexual woman inspired her to champion causes in social justice for LGBTI people in Bulgaria.






Arbër Kodra, executive director of Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), is a well-known activist across Albania and worldwide. As a leader of one of the oldest LGBTI organizations in his country, he has dedicated much of his life to preserving and expanding human rights to all people.






Masen Davis is a world-renowned leader in LGBTQ and human rights. He has led countless initiatives for LGBTQ rights in North America, Europe, and Central Asia. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Transgender Europe, a network of Transgender organizations across Europe and Central Asia. Masen has spent much of his life involved in activism and advocating for LGBTQ people.



Arbër Kodra, executive director of Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), is a well-known activist across Albania and worldwide. As a leader of one of the oldest LGBTI organizations in his country, he has dedicated much of his life to preserving and expanding human rights to all people.

By Dorian Coleman

Arbër surprised himself by becoming an activist. “I would have never thought I would become an activist,” he said with a smile. His path to activism began at the end of 2008, while he struggled to accept himself and struggled to accept he was gay. One cold day in December, his boyfriend invited him to participate in an activity to raise awareness of HIV. Initially, Arbër did not want to go for fear of violence or verbal threats.  

After some time, he found the courage to participate in the awareness project. “I changed my mind to change my reality,” he said. He joined his boyfriend together with a small group of people to put posters in the main streets of Tirana after midnight. The adrenaline left him invigorated. This event was a catalyst, and from here, Arbër became inspired and energized to do work in support of LGBTI people in his country. “I am a voice for those who don’t have one.”

Arbër founded the organization, Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), to promote and preserve the human rights and freedoms of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, social class, physical disability, or ethnicity.  Much of the work of this organization focuses on the needs of LGBTI people in Albania. 

OMSA supports the intersectionality and diversity of the human experience through social and economic empowerment, civic engagement, art, research, and political campaigns.  It also provides services in health, education, and legal assistance and increases the political participation of LGBTI people in Albania through advocacy, education, and activism.

Two areas of concentration in the work of OMSA are political education and family education.

OMSA has been critical at creating political awareness in Albania through educational activities for vulnerable members of society. “One of our greatest works is working with the government to open a broader dialogue about human rights to all people,” states Arbër.

In 2010, the Albanian government established The Law on Protection from Discrimination. Arbër explained, “This law is for everyone, but it protects us directly from discrimination, hate speech, and violence of all kinds.” The law addresses several forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment, structural discrimination, and segregation, among others.

Additionally, in 2015 the Albanian Parliament approved the Resolution: On Protection of Rights and Freedoms of persons belonging to the LGBTI community in Albania. This resolution included a National Action Plan regarding measures of protection, legislative recommendations for amendments to the labor code, and the education of rights of LGBTI people in Albania through the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. This decision was monumental and historic in terms of public awareness and human rights.

Although great progress has been made towards quelling discrimination of LGBTI people as individuals, protections have not yet been fully established for same-sex couples when building families. There is no legal recognition of civil unions and of same-sex marriages, and same-sex couples cannot adopt stepchildren. Although struggles still exist for LGBTI people in building families of their own, encouraging acceptance and unconditional love within the families in which LGBTI are born is of utmost importance.

“The love of the family is so important,” Arbër said. He emphasized how the process of coming out is difficult and important and he reflected on how the support of his family was pivotal in his own life. “Family education is invaluable because of the multidimensionality of the LGBTI experience.”

Arbër reflected on how much he appreciated his own family.  “My parents are pioneers, they are my heroes and they made history. I am very lucky to have my parents, who are very supportive. They’ve always accepted me. It was me that struggled to accept myself. In 2018, my mom and dad received a very important award as the most supportive parents in Albania, from the LGBTI Shelter, and they deserve it.

They are symbols of unconditional love. They taught me to love unconditionally, to accept one another for who we are, and not to be sad that people see you differently. Being different, that’s our power!”

In Albania, LGBTI people can face social pressures from self, family, communities, institutions, and society. The social pressure could lead to rejection or denial. Coming out can have consequences, such as career destruction, social rejection, or even death. This makes it even more important to spread awareness.

One way OMSA promotes awareness is through connections with its partners. “We partner with government institutions, political parties, public health institutions, universities, and the international community,” states Arbër. “It’s important in terms of intersectionality. It’s not only important for me to work for my community because I’m gay; it’s also important to support and work for other human rights causes.”

Support locally and internationally is vital to the existence of OMSA, and donations keep OMSA operational. Arbër states, “Donations are essential. Of course, like many small organizations, we struggle. Donations help us fulfill our mission and bring the change we want to see.” Donations to OMSA can be made here.

Arbër and other activists in Albania are working continually to ensure that LGBTI people are aware of their rights and the support services available to them. Donations and awareness are critical towards improving social, economic, and political conditions for LGBTI people in all facets of Albanian society.  As Arbër states, “This is survival for us.”



Author: Savita Sukul

Savita has a Masters in International Communications and a Bachelors in Communication Arts with a minor in business. She has worked in the television industry, cosmetic industry, and for a non-profit organization. Her main interest lies in the television/film industry as she has attended acting school and worked in the communications department at Discovery Inc. That being said, she loves to interview artists especially those who use their creativity to participate in activism. Savita believes that can inspire people to find art in life and the ability to change the world with their work.



Mohamed Ali (Dali) Aguerbi created the documentary, ‘Rainbow Bridge’, about LGBTI migrants. He is an activist who is also working for a non-profit in Malta, MGRM.







Eli Rigatuso is a queer transmasculine Two Spirit of the Menominee Nation, video producer and director who advocates for inclusive spaces for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.







Peter Murimi is a producer and documentary filmmaker whose work is often featured on the BBC. His film, “I am Samuel” follows a queer Kenyan man navigating his identity while struggling with familial and cultural pressures.





Kevin Mwachiro is a man of many talents. He is a published author, podcaster, film festival curator, and former journalist. However, his true passion lies in telling Kenyan stories, specifically queer stories. In our conversation, he shares his experience and love for storytelling in his community.





Cracey Fernandes and Candacie McEwan advocate for education on transgender people in Guyana through the organization, Guyana Trans United. “We believe strongly in changing hearts and minds,” said Candacie. In this article, they speak about the challenges transgender people face in Guyana and their continuous efforts to empower transgender people and improve their quality of life.



Alexandra Kuenning

Alexandra (Xandie) Kuenning (she/her/hers) is a graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s in International Affairs and is currently pursuing an International Master’s degree in Central and East European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. In her work with non-profit organizations, she has concentrated on Eurasian affairs, with a specific focus on the emergence of LGBTI rights and organizations.




Cabaret Against the Hate Speech is a newly formed collective based in Glasgow working to organize counter-protests against all forms of hate speech across Scotland through the use of live music, song, and dance. I conversed with a spokesperson from the collective to learn more about their work and to discuss the role art can play in activism.


Based in Minneapolis, the Queer Armenian Library is an online collection of curated works by or about queer Armenians. I spoke to founder J.P. Der Boghossian to learn more about the library and its extensive collection and to discuss his new podcast dedicated to examining the impact queer books can have on someone’s life.


Located in Timișoara, Romania’s third-largest city, Identity.Education was created out of a need for formal representation of the LGBTI community and a lack of spaces for the community to gather. I spoke to Alex Meszaros, a board member, to learn more about the work Identity.Education does and the recent history of LGBTI rights in Romania.


Based in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the Estonian LGBT Association aims to create a fair and safe state for LGBT+ people by influencing government policies and legislation. I spoke to Anette Mäletjärv about their work with the organization and what LGBTI activism looks like in Estonia.


On 5 June, County Donegal saw its first Pride parade, organized by the Inishowen Pride committee. I spoke to Leanne Mc Brearty, a member of the organizing group, about what it took to host a Pride parade in rural Ireland and what the response was from the community.


In 2021, the LGBT+ film festival Festheart celebrated its fifth anniversary in Estonia. I spoke with Keio Soomelt, one of the founders and head organizer of the festival, to discuss what it is like putting together one of the only LGBT+ film festivals in the Baltics and the impact Festheart has had on Estonia.


On 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since then, numerous cities have been under siege — including the capital, Kyiv — and more than two million Ukrainians have fled the country as civilian deaths mount. As the war continues, it is vital to bring attention to the situation of LGBTI Ukrainians and what this war means for them as a minority group.


The Queer Cyprus Association (QCA) is a civil society movement located in the northern part of Cyprus that aims to create a world in which individuals do not face discrimination based on their language, religious belief, color, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual expression, age, or ethnicity. I spoke with Dervish Taskiranlar, the Project Assistant and Communication Officer at QCA, about this movement and the impact of the media on social attitudes towards LGBTI people. In addition, Taskiranlar shared what it is like to fight for inclusion and safety for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) in a divided nation.


Founded in 2015, Tallinn Bearty is the only festival of bear culture in the Baltic region. I spoke to Alvar ​​Ameljushenko, the co-founder and organizer of the festival, to learn more about what it means to be a bear in Estonia and the impact Tallinn Bearty has had on the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) in Estonia.


Tomas Diafas is the founder of the Thessaloniki Queer Arts Festival. This grassroots initiative aims to alter deeply entrenched misconceptions and prejudices toward the LGBTQ+ community through artistic and cultural practices. Here, he discusses the festival’s origins, what it is like to live in Greece as an LGBTI person, and how vital educational and artistic programs are for changing societal attitudes regarding sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).


Joci Marton is a Roma LGBTQ+ activist from Hungary, working to showcase Roma LGBTQ+ identity through art inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI). Here, he discusses what led him to become an activist; his recent exhibition Owning the Game;” and how Roma LGBTQ+ identity is represented in the media.


Since 2014, the Maribor Youth Cultural Center has been supporting young LGBTQ+ people via the Maribor through Pink Glasses program. I spoke with the team behind Maribor’s first Pride, held in 2019, to discuss this historic event and the impact it has had on Slovenian society.


Isaac Blake is the founder and executive director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company based in Cardiff, Wales. A proud gay Romani Gypsy, he organized the United Kingdom’s first international LGBTQ+ Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller conference in 2019, followed by the first ever Gypsy, Roma and Traveller LGBTQ+ Spoken History Archive, which launched early this year. In this profile, he discusses what it means to be an LGBTQ+ Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller; the impact the Archive has had within the community; and what to expect from future LGBTQ+ symposiums.


Founded in 2011, Optimist is a bi-monthly publication in Belgrade, Serbia that aims to provide positive visibility and awareness of the LGBTI community. I spoke with founder Predrag Azdejkovic to learn more about how the magazine came to be and what it means for the LGBTI community in Serbia.


This year, St. Petersburg will host the 13th edition of QueerFest, a cultural festival that raises issues of human rights, identities, gender, and sexuality. I spoke with Egor Teryannikov and Ruslan Savolainen — two members of the organizing committee — about the history of this festival, the impact it has had in Russia, and what we can expect to see in this year’s edition.


Alla Chikinda is the PR and Communications Manager at the Resource Center for LGBT [people] in Yekaterinburg, Russia, an organization with the mission to create a respecting, friendly, and accepting environment for the LGBTI community by implementing social and legal programs and services aimed at overcoming discrimination, stereotypes, prejudices, and stigmatization on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Here, she discusses the variances of what it means to be LGBTI in Russia and how the Center helped organize the region’s first Pride week.

Daniyar Sabitov & Anatoly Chernoussov, Kazakhstan

Launched in 2017, was the first LGBTI mass media in Kazakhstan and the first website to publish LGBTI content in the Kazakh language. I spoke with the two co-founders, Anatoly Chernoussov and Daniyar Sabitov, to discuss what inspired them to create and the impact this project has had on the portrayal of LGBTI topics in Kazakhstan’s media.

Herman Gaibe — T9 NSK, Russia

Herman Gaibe is the project manager of T9 NSK, an initiative in Novosibirsk, Russia that aims to increase the acceptance of transgender people in society and, eventually, to create a network of transgender activist groups in different regions of Russia. In this profile, he discusses what LGBTI activism looks like in Russia and how T9 NSK works on the ground to effect change.  Читать по русски

David Tasevski — Subversive Front, North Macedonia

David Tasevski is the Executive Director of Subversive Front, an association for sexual and gender minorities based in North Macedonia. In this interview, he discusses the importance of mental health within the LGBTI community and how Subversive Front is working to develop evidence-based policies, programs, and services that support the self-identified needs of LGBTI people.

Lilit Martirosyan – RighT Side: Human Rights Defender, Armenia

Lilit Martirosyan is Armenia’s first registered transgender woman, the first transgender person to speak out against LGBTI discrimination in Armenia’s National Assembly, and the founder of Armenia’s first and only NGO for trans people and sex workers — RighT Side. Here she discusses her activism and what the reality is on the ground for LGBTI people in Armenia.

Thomas Roughan and Zsuzsanna Zsuro — Queer Budapest

Over two days in November 2020, attendees of the Queer Budapest Exhibition were able to explore contemporary queer culture in Budapest through the lens of a curated selection of artists currently operating in Hungary. I spoke with the exhibition’s two curators, Thomas Roughan and Zsuzsanna Zsuro, to discuss the formation of the exhibition and how it has since grown into a permanent platform supporting and promoting the work of queer Hungarian creatives.

Ali Bousselmi — Mawjoudin, Tunisia

Ali Bousselmi is the co-founder and executive director of Mawjoudin, meaning “We Exist,” a Tunisian-based NGO that works towards achieving equality for the LGBTI community and other marginalized groups and individuals. In this interview, he discusses the wide-ranging activities Mawjoudin supports, including counseling services, a guide for LGBTI asylum seekers, and the Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival. 



SEA Change

Share Your Business Acumen and Be Part of Social Change

The SEA Change Initiative is looking for volunteers just like you to form part of our pro bono business network: the “Buisbono network.” This will be a consulting and matching service pairing nonprofit organizations in the Caribbean with mentors in the US who can commit to giving 15 days of their time on a pro bono consultancy basis to create social impact in the Caribbean. This support can be over a 1 month to 3 month period if you can commit to giving at least 15 days of your time.

Alturi and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) leverage the unique strengths of corporations, social and civil sector organizations, and individuals to enhance the abilities of people and communities to solve complex problems and generate income for social change. By focusing on Social Enterprise Acceleration (SEA), Alturi and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition will work with the corporate sector to help them deliver on their employee engagement and social impact objectives while assisting nonprofit organizations to become more sustainable through social enterprise initiatives. The first online meeting to establish the Buisbono network will take place on Thursday, July 16.


Professional Application and Profile on Buisbono 

A detailed application will help us determine if you have the mindset, skills, and experience we are looking for to support nonprofit organizations in the Caribbean. Following a formal offer to join us, we help you to fill out a Professional Profile, and along with your CV and ongoing conversations we get a clear idea about your skills, strengths, and interests and use this information in the matching process.


Social Impact

We will then reach out to our nonprofit partners, who are setting up a social enterprise (Incubator plan) or consolidating an existing initiative (Accelerator Plan) to find out where there is a need for your skills.

We work with our nonprofit partners to explore their core business challenges and from that we produce their top two assignments for the duration of the program. You’ll then be matched with a client based on the assignment type, their need, and the skills and experience you offer.


Project Types

  • Brand Strategy
  • Business Management
  • Business Plan Development
  • Business Planning
  • Business Strategy
  • Communications
  • Content Creation
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Digital Transformation
  • e-Commerce
  • Film Production
  • Fundraising
  • Graphic Design
  • Impact Reporting
  • Marketing and Branding
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Performance Management
  • Product Design
  • Process
  • Project Management
  • PR
  • Risk Analysis and Auditing
  • Salesforce
  • Strategy Planning
  • Sales
  • UX Design
  • Web Design & Development


Who you’ll Work With?

Once enrolled as a buisbono expert you will be matched with a nonprofit organization interested in setting up or consolidating a social enterprise, social business, or ethical business that is making a social impact in their community.

The nonprofit you are matched with could be at different stages with their venture, from start-up, through consolidating and scaling up the impact of an existing social enterprise. Whether it’s a non-profit that wants to generate more revenue for a new project, a social business that would like to increase sales, or a social enterprise looking to get social investment ready, you’ll be given an assignment that suits your skills and experience.


What’s in it for You?

As a pro bono business expert you will have the option of working remotely or on-site with your assigned nonprofit. You will also be able to participate in SEA Change Initiative’s social enterprise networking events or virtual workshops, and social impact talks. As a buisbono expert you will get to share your knowledge and skills with nonprofits while also gaining much in return. You will work closely with inspiring organizations in interesting locations in the Caribbean, on dynamic social enterprise initiatives designed to help nonprofits cover their core operating costs. The CVC/Mossier SEA Change Initiative will support your learning ahead of your program start date with interesting and informative readings, articles, and presentations which lead to your increased knowledge and understanding of social entrepreneurship, startup methods, and consulting.


Who are we Looking For?

Buisbono recruits:

  • Have a minimum of 5 years’ work experience in a professional field in marketing, sales, operations, or finance.
  • Are looking to give back while also learning from nonprofits working on social change.
  • Want to make a positive difference that will help the community.
  • Are passionate about entrepreneurship as a force for change and want to share their specialist business skills to improve people’s lives.

How will this work?

  • You can determine your time commitment within a specific 1 month to 3-month period.
  • You can work remotely and on a set number of days per month.
  • You can work on the design and scope of your assignment to meet client requirements during the consultancy planning phase.
  • A 2-week wrap-up phase is included for pro bono experts to write up and submit a brief consultancy report and present their work to the assigned nonprofit and make recommendations on the consultant they would need next.


SEA CHANGE: be part of something big to change the world as we know it!