June 14, 2024

Freedom to Exist: The LGBTQ+ Movement’s Quest for Justice and Equality

Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

At Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism, we pride ourselves on being a trusted resource for feminist activists in the regions we fund, awarding rapid response grants in times of urgent need. We actively build relationships of trust, respect, and care with frontline feminist movements, so we are better positioned to anticipate, adapt, and respond to activists’ most urgent needs. Our unique grantmaking model enables us to provide fast, flexible funding to feminist movements responding to crises and challenging discriminatory policies across the globe.

Across the globe, patriarchal norms and systems and heteronormative structures continue to marginalize and oppress LGBTQ+ people, depriving them of basic human rights. Despite progress in recent years, shifting political landscapes are steadily rolling back hard-won legal protections, gender-based violence, and discrimination threaten the lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, and LGBTQ+ communities in crises are often denied resources and aid due to discriminatory practices and policies. These are just a few of the obstacles the LGBTQ+ community faces worldwide. Despite these obstacles, LGBTQ+ communities and activists are at the forefront of change, democratization, and progress around the world. Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism is proud to support activists and their efforts as they fight for equity.

Defying the Crackdown: LGBTQ+ Activism in Russia

In Russia, LGBTQ+ activists navigate a landscape marred by a long and troubling history of oppression against their community. Their pursuit of equality and acceptance is further compounded by the recent passage of a law that targets LGBTQ+ groups, labeling them “terrorists/extremists.” This was the pinnacle of an unsettling thirty-year cycle that began with the introduction of a “gay propaganda law” and continued with years of public and political discrimination against the community. Anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda and limited legal protection further intensify these challenges, casting a shadow of uncertainty over their activism. 

Now, neighboring nations like Georgia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan are following suit creating and perpetuating similar legislation and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ rights due to Russia’s significant political sway in the region. This has contributed to the shrinking of spaces for LGBTQ+ advocacy.

As LGBTQ+ activists and movements in Russia work to overcome these obstacles, Urgent Action Fund has played a crucial role in supporting them by funding:

  • Relocation from unsafe and dangerous situations because of recent laws passed.
  • Psychological services to survivors of gender-based violence and local LGBTQ+ community members.
  • Awareness-raising digital campaigns about harmful queer-phobic laws.
  • Resources for activists seeking asylum after facing doxxing, threats, and harassment.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity: LGBTQ+ Activism in the United States

Although LGBTQ+ movements in the United States have made significant advancements toward gaining fundamental rights and protections, the road toward lasting equality and inclusion is fraught with risks and challenges. Regressive legislation directly targeting LGBTQ+ communities has emerged at an alarming rate in recent years. Discriminatory state and federal legislation like the “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” law, anti-drag bans, limitations on access to gender-affirming care, and restrictions on reproductive freedoms, to name a few, endanger the lives, liberties, and well-being of LGBTQ+ activists and communities in the United States. 

Through our rapid response grants, Urgent Action Fund is supporting LGBTQ+ communities in the United States by funding:

  • Organizations working with legislators to educate and position them to make, revise, and pass laws impacting LGBTQ+ rights.
  • Activists organizing healing retreats for those experiencing burnout to create safe havens where members of the LGBTQ+ community can find solace, forge connections, and envision a future free from oppression.
  • Groups building networks of solidarity, mutual aid, political education, and deepening relationships among previously disconnected communities of Indigenous and queer feminist movements.
  • LGBTQ+ movements establishing hotlines to offer emotional support to trans people as they navigate relentless attacks on multiple fronts.

Navigating Political Unrest and Stigma: LGBTQ+ Activism in Iran, Yemen, and Syria

Political unrest, natural disasters, and displacement often impact LGBTQ+ communities disproportionately. In times of turmoil, LGBTQ+ people in Iran, Yemen, and Syria, face the added trauma of societal stigma, discrimination, violence, and laws that not only deny their fundamental rights but also render their existence a crime. The lack of legal protection further exacerbates their struggles, underscoring the urgent need for support.

Traditional philanthropy and humanitarian efforts rarely center LGBTQ+ people. That is where Urgent Action Fund steps in. We are deeply connected to the needs of frontline LGBTQ+ movements, understanding that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in many parts of the world requires the courage to take risks in grantmaking. By focusing our grantmaking on those who are under-resourced, we are filling a critical funding gap and empowering activists in their pursuit of safety, justice, and equity. Through years of collaborating with efforts on the ground, Urgent Action Fund is seen as a trusted ally by activists. This has allowed us to use our rapid response grants to reach and support LGBTQ+ activists:

  • Seeking asylum after being targeted, arrested, and interrogated for their work in Iran.
  • Advocating for new laws to eliminate discrimination against feminists and the LGBTQ+ community in Yemen.
  • Facing the repercussions of the earthquake in Syria, where LGBTQ+ people do not have access to aid or shelters because they are not LGBTQ+ inclusive.

Join Urgent Action Fund in Supporting LGBTQ+ and Feminist Movements

By channeling more resources to women and LGBTQ+ feminist movements, we’re investing in realizing and sustaining our shared vision of a just and equitable world.

Want to support Urgent Action Fund’s ability to move more funds to LGBTQ+ activists and movements? Please consider making a gift today to invest in the power and potential of frontline feminist LGBTQ+ movements to create lasting change.

**Out of an abundance of care for the safety of our grantees operating in precarious contexts, we refrain from disclosing identifying information about those we fund. Nevertheless, their courageous efforts warrant recognition and our unwavering commitment while ensuring their protection.** 

Photo Credit: Jacob Lund

 

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Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

Freedom to Exist: The LGBTQ+ Movement’s Quest for Justice and Equality

Across the globe, patriarchal norms and systems and heteronormative structures continue to marginalize and oppress LGBTQ+ people, depriving them of basic human rights. Despite progress in recent years, shifting political landscapes are steadily rolling back hard-won legal protections, gender-based violence, and discrimination threaten the lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, and LGBTQ+ communities in crises are often denied resources and aid due to discriminatory practices and policies. These are just a few of the obstacles the LGBTQ+ community faces worldwide. Despite these obstacles, LGBTQ+ communities and activists are at the forefront of change, democratization, and progress around the world. Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism is proud to support activists and their efforts as they fight for equity.

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In 1997, Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism was founded with the vision of providing quick, easily accessible resources to feminist activists in urgent need of help and support worldwide. Today, we continue to provide rapid response grants to women, trans, and LBGTQ+ movements, filling a gap where traditional philanthropy falls short. But the gap in resourcing for feminist activists is vast, and today, we are calling on funders to step up.

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Chinyere Ezie

Pronouns

Role

Chinyere Ezie is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she advocates for racial justice, gender justice, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, and challenges governmental abuses of power. Chinyere previously worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she brought cases defending the rights of LGBTQI+ Southerners. She also served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she litigated employment discrimination cases and secured a $5.1 million jury verdict on behalf of workers subjected to unlawful treatment. Chinyere is a William J. Fulbright Scholar, a White House Fellows Program Regional Panelist, and a cum laude graduate of Yale University. She also received a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School, where she was an Alexander Hamilton Scholar and served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender and Law. Chinyere serves on the Board of Directors of the Transgender Law Center and the feminist grant-making organization the Urgent Action Fund. She was also a Founding Board Member of the National Trans Bar Association.In 2018, she was named one of the nation’s Best LGBTQI+ Lawyers Under 40.