Despite gains made in many parts of the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people are, in some regions, increasingly persecuted and denied basic human rights. Because bigotry thrives where we are silenced by fear, we've created this space for people to share stories of discrimination and survival. Read these stories, share them, and contribute your own. Let the world know that we will not be silent.

ayano

Ayano/


“i remember,when i had girl crushes.i was so terrified,i thought i was a sinful and disgusting person. I tried not to think about it anymore…i became depressed,anxious and scared. this continued for several years.when i was 14,one day,i just got tired of it.”

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Christina Clarke is a 24 year old bi-sexual Jamaican and Administration Officer for a LGBT organization in the capital city Kingston. She says it is not easy being LGBT in Jamaica, but if you are a bi-sexual female and present as a woman, then nobody will know or give you problems. She says though that Jamaicans make everyone’s business their own, and love to “dig up dirt” on other people exposing and “shaming” them on Facebook. To contact: Phone +1 (876)2933814, email: christina.clarke00@gmail.com, IG: _realitychick, TW: realityxoxo, FB: christinaclarke. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 23 September 2016

Christina/


“I am labelled as confused and is sometimes asked the question in being bi-sexual, am I truly attracted to two sexes or simply confused and need to experiment until my “TRUE” sexuality is found. I am also labelled as promiscuous or even being told I am “just looking to be noticed”.”

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Jelanii

Jelanii/


“My name is Jelani Kyrie Kabita. I wasn’t born with this name, I wasn’t born with this body, I wasn’t born with this state of mind. For 20 years I lived in denial but I was trapped personally internally with family morals and religion barriers.”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 26 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 21 year old, gender queer person Rzouga (+216 24739501, rzougaselmi@gmail.com, IG: rzouga.selmi). Rzouga is an LGBTQI+ activist but is not publicly ÔoutÕ: ÒAs a non binary gender queer person IÕve never been able to express myself the way I want to because I may be called ÒfaggotÒ ÒsissyÒ ÒpervertÒ etcÉÓ He has come out to his family though. His mother, when he told her, asked him to go to a psychologist. He agreed. In his first consultation, he would not say he identifies as LGBTQI+ fearing the psychologistÕs reaction. The second time though, when he entered he said Ògood morning, IÕm a homosexual person. I was not raped, I was not forced to be. I was born and I choose to stay as a homosexual person. I am not having a problem with myself as a gay person.Ó To his surprise, his psychologist was supportive in particular in dealing with his mother. Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Rzouga/


“As a human being I’ve always failed in finding the ‘one person’ that I can call soul mates because of the cultural restriction and the backwards traditions that doesn’t tolerate love in a different way but it’s ok I feel the love among family friends and country love, but as a non binary gender queer person I’ve never been able to express my gender identity the way I want because I may be called ‘faggot’ ‘sissy’ ‘pervert’ and a lot of other terms.”

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omarweb

Omar/


“When I was 16 I felt attracted to guys, I was very afraid to get exposed, so I started searching in Google for a solution, “how to be straight? what should I do?”, and I remember reading lots of articles about gay people who wanted to be converted into straight, I did all the things they mentioned, but nothing changed, my feeling were still the same.”

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LesleyAnn

Lesley Ann/


“In 2015, while I was under general anesthesia, my doctor removed and destroyed a part of my body, without my consent. I have filed a lawsuit against this doctor. In several Facebook posts, she even threatened to stop treating transgender patients because of me (although she never named me). She openly exploited my fear that attempting to hold her accountable would restrict our community’s access to healthcare.”

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Rick is a 23 year old gay Jamaican. He says he’s always been treated like an outcast because of his sexuality. His family does not accept him, especially his mother who, he says, hates him. On several occasions he’s attempted suicide. He says there are people who want to kill him, and that he has to have sex with men to get money to eat. To contact: Williams.ricardo21@gmail.com, ph +1(876)2832816. Social Media handles: FB: Ricardo Williams, IG: ricardo201117, TW: wilily_ricky. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 30 September 2016

Rick/


“I have been homeless more than one. I have been raped two times- my family doesn’t accept me, my mother hates me badly. I have tried killing myself more than once. I am feeling very lost, lonely and unloved.”

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Hunsij

Hunsij/


“My greatest desire is to move to some place where my sexuality is legal and accepted, a place where I can just call him my boyfriend or husband, not my partner, a place where they would not stare if we hold hands in the street, a place where everything would be just fine.”

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quincey

Quincy Kai/


“I’m gay, I’m ethnic. I never understood hatred and I still don’t. Growing up my Fathers side was very traditional in African American roots. That side of my family valued gospel and christ, preaching that Gay people or anyone who was not living based off the bible was going to go to hell, I don’t understand why people show hatred towards one another.”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 02 December, 2016. A posted portrait of 29 year old, gender queer person Khookha (+216 52539395). When KhookhaÕs family discovered that he is an activist with Tunisian non-governmental womenÕs rights and LGBTQI+ organization Mawjoudui - We Exist, his mother asked that he see a psychologist to Òadjust my weird behaviour and heal me from abomination and mental disease.Ó The Psychologist said he was adopting female traits to show signs of weakness, a claim he flatly rejects. ÒI donÕt agree with my psychologist, everyone should have the right to experiment femininity and masculinity and every possible way of gender expression despite of the biological sex they were assigned to at birth.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Khoukha/


“Everyone should have the right to experiment femininity and masculinity and every possible way of gender expression despite of the biological sex they were assigned to at birth. Gender is a social construct, individuals should have the right to build and express their gender identity the way they want.”

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Mo (left) is a 41 year old Jamaican transgender man. He is a police detective. He says “Jamaicans are very intolerant and homophobic, none the less, I live my life fearlessly” he goes on to say “you can never know when you can become a target… so I am always n defense mode.” Mo is in a long-term relationship with his partner Pinkie. To contact: monique391975@icoloud.com, phone: +1(876)5871997. Social Media: IG: spoiltchildmo FB: Mo Bibi Rowe. He sits with his partner 30 year old Jamiacan lesbian Pinkie says she does not face discrimination common to LGBTQI+ people in Jamaica. She attributes this to her feminine presentation. She says though that “In Jamaica most people don’t have a mind of their own, they just want to hear one person say ‘alright – you’re a lesbian you need for dead.’ It’s like the entire crowd come down on you, ‘you need for dead.’ There’s just not somebody to have a mindset to say ‘you know leave her alone or leave her alone.’” Pinkie is in a long-term relationship with her partner Mo. To contact: monique391975@icoloud.com, phone: +1(876)5910578. Social Media: FB: Exstasii whipped cream Codling. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 29 September 2016

Pinkie/


“I have family and friends and co-workers that really put up with my life they don’t look at me any different from them.”

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davidrose

David Rose/


“i have a past darkness of discriminate, bullied, religious police arrest, daily fear to murdered, teacher cutting my hair shorter at school, a lots hurt memory that bring me to final decision, seeking protection in sweden.”

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GRAPHIC_Mikael-Owunna

Limit(less)/


We’re delighted to share the work of Mikael Owunna this week. “Limit(less)” is Mikael’s longterm project on LGBTQ African immigrants in North America and Europe. The project uses queer African style to debunk the myth that being LGBTQ is “un-African”. We’ll share the work of Mikael on our feed through May 26. Read the stories … READ THE STORY

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Tunisia, Sousse. 03 December, 2016. A posed portrait of 37 year old, gay man Walid (right) (+216 97746228, walidnasrkhlifi@gmail.com, FB: Walid Nasr) and 26 year old, gay man Abdesattar (left) (+216 22560992, abdessattarwasli@gmail.com). They have been together for five years, but because of hostile attitudes towards same sex relationships in the region and laws that make some consensual same sex acts a crime, they have kept their relationship hidden. ÒWe moved from place to place, lied to families and friends. We had to pretend and to be someone else. We love each other and we will never give up on each other, whatever happens.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Walid & Abdessattar/


“We were insulted, blackmailed, rejected, but we are strong, we have each other, we have friends and people like us. We have hope. What’s wrong with being in love. I love him and he loves me. I want to hold his hand in public or kiss him but that’s forbidden here, it’s a crime. We are happy together we want to spend our life together and we will do it despite of everything.”

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LrMobile2105-2016-0747244918722148847

Drew/


“They even called our local pastor to come and bless the house, and he told my mother certain things in my house were causing me to be gay. My mother started digging out stuff from my cupboard and she threw away many of my things, including my collection of snow globes. My relationship with my family became strained, we lived in the same house but did not talk for months.”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 25 November, 2016. A posed portrait of trans-woman Amina (+216 52044023). Amina was ÒoutedÓ when a private, online photo album was made public. Images of her having sex with men were shared on a facebook group her friends and neighbors belonged to. Amina ran away from home for two weeks, during which time her father had a heart attack and lost his sight. ÒI fled my parentÕs house and I turned my phone off for two weeks, I dropped school. Afterwards when I re-opened my phone, the first call that I got was from my mother, she had a very sad voice while repeating: your father blind because of you.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Amina/


“I fled my parent’s house and I turned my phone off for two weeks, I dropped school.
Afterwards when I re-opened my phone, the first call that I got was from my mother, she had a very sad voice while repeating : your father blind because of you.”

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All his life 23 year old Jamaican Bobby Brandon Brown (right) has been the victim of homophobia. Ostracized by his family, Bobby became homeless. On several occasions he’s found himself having to have sex with men so he can have somewhere to sleep. He has attempted suicide several times. At the time of his picture being taken he was in a relationship with 19 year old Persian Apologetic. To contact: bbrown120.bbobby@gmail.com, ph: +18762855783, IG prettyboy_fenty. 19 year old transgender woman, and make up artist Persion Unapologetic has not spoken to her family since leaving home two years ago. She recently reached out to her mother who told her not to speak to her, ending the phone call by saying “you don’t have a mother or a father.” To contact: Phone:+1(867)3373528, Facebook: fabrice.cousins, Instagram: @persion_unapologetic. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 30 September 2016

Bobby/


“My name is Bobby I am writing my story to tell you about my life being a gay man and living in Jamaica. I am 23 years of age and I am proud to say that I am gay. My life has been so hard to the extent I tried to kill myself more than once; I have been beaten because of my sexuality. I tried to kill myself because I was ashamed of myself because at one point I hated myself for being gay and I remember I went Down Town Waterfront trying to jump off to drown myself because I was so sad that no one loved me because of my sexuality.”

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22 year old Jamaican Jherane Patmore describes herself as a Cis woman, Pansexual. While she says she has not been discriminated against, her view that there is nothing wrong with being attracted to people of the same sex led to her being made excluded at school. She also feels she can be open about her sexuality in many parts of Jamaican society fearing she discrimination or attack. To contact: Phone +1(876) 556-4420, Instagram: @jherane, Twitter: @jherane. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 28 September 2016

Jherane/


“Many people misunderstand that being pan sexual means being attracted to everyone I see walking down the road before understanding what it really is and being chastised as the ‘slutty woman’. There is even the other end of the story where many people exist that many people that being bisexual and pan sexual doesn’t exist or that this phenomenon exists within the LGBT community. I have been accused of lying about my sexuality and that many people would say that you can either be gay or straight and that nothing else really exists. Someone who I’ve even had to work with on a project recently accused me of being straight and I’m just seeking attention.”

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25 year old Jamaican Elton McDuffus is a Procurement Officer for a local LGBT group and a gay man. He has suffered homophobic bullying all his life, but says that he hopes to use that experience to help other LGBTQI+ people who have been discriminated against. To contact: email: emcduffus@gmail.com, Instagram: classicman_imageguy. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 25 September 2016

Elton/


“I never knew it was bullying until I got to know the word too well. Then I learnt it was homophobic bullying because I was being teased and called “fish”, “faggot”, “battyman” and other degrading names. For half of my life I felt as though something was wrong with me. I thought maybe they were right for teasing me”

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28 year old social work student Abby Sáde (surname withheld) is a lesbian living in Kingston, Jamaica. Abby says: “A Jamaican lesbian who was raised in the Adventist Church. My mom was the Head Deaconess and someone well known in our community. So there was no way in hell her daughter, her only daughter could be gay. Long story short, I decided that her approval was not required for me to be happy, for me to be true to who I am, for me to love who I love. I chose not to break, not to give in but to live my truth” To contact: sadeabby1@gmail.com, 8768641611, abbiiiwabbiii-(ig), abby-sade(facebook), awthentikabby(twitter). Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 24 September 2016

Abby/


“Family can make you or break you. I know this all too well as my relationship with my mom or the lack thereof, almost ruined me.”

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Andre (last name withheld) was bullied severely at school. At one point a large mob of students  gathered outside a school building he was in, threatening him with violence. Eventually the police had to be called to escort him out safely. His mother’s waiting car was stoned. This is how he came out to his family. Instead of rejecting him, as is sadly the fate of so many LGBTQI+ Jamaicans, his family embraced him and accepted his identity and sexuality. To contact: andre_c-bar@hotmail.com, 18768595236, Social Media: (IG,FB,T) drepheonix. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 26 September 2016

Andre/


“he told everyone in the school that I was gay. In doing this, it caused uproar in the school. I was quickly taken off the scene and I was pushed in a building for my safety. The mob of student grew and you have the entire student body and mob in the building chanting to let me out so they can have their way with me. School officials and security could not squash the mob nor could they disperse.”

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IG_series

#IAmAnAlly/


www.isupportthelgbt.community For many in the LGBTQI+ community, it can feel as though no allies exist, particularly when friends and family members turn their backs. Many allies are afraid to show their support, worrying what their own community might think. It may take courage, but it is the right thing to do, and with each person … READ THE STORY

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Tunisia, Tunis. 01 December, 2016. A posed portrait of 36 year old, gay man Badr (+216 58111790, baaboubadr@yahoo.com). Badr is the Executive Director of DAMJ, a human rights organization. He has worked as an LGBTQI+ activist for many years. This work has also made him the target of violence. For his safety, he moves house every four to five months. ÒThe worst moment of my life was in December 2012, the first president of the association received death threats and I was hiding him in my home to protect him. So I became the target of a group of homophobic gangsters who infiltrated into my home in the medina of Tunis, they took my archives and many documents of the NGO after having violently brutalized meÓ. Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Badr/


“The worst moment of my life was in December 2012, the first president of the association received death threats and I was hiding him in my home to protect him. So I became the target of a group of homophobic gangsters.”

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Almost done with the Dame Coco transformation, Dom sprays product on his face.

Coco/


“I fear discrimination in public spaces – the taunts and the calling of names. Bapuk, pondan. Muggers are alert on people like us. I have seen and heard stories of people being roughed up. In a conservative society, I can only express myself in safe spaces. My family cannot know.”

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Fenominah strokes her wig.

Fenominah/


“I looked for escape. I began to love make up. I’ve always been fascinated about women in general, especially those Hollywood actresses, how beautiful they look. The inspiration and aspiration started growing. Then I discovered drag.”

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Ash_facebook

Ash/


“I spent nights crying tears on cheeks tears on my pillow I couldn’t cry out loud because if someone hear me they would think I am a monster and pervert I felt so weak and alone I hated myself and I tried to change but one day I stood up and said to myself what if this would be ur last day in life would care about what others say would u care about all the people who are trying to put u down ?”

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Tunisia, Bizerte. 28 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 18 year old, gay man Chehinez (not his real name) (+216 55532321). ChehinezÕs effeminate self expression did not sit well with his  conservative family. So much so that his father would beat him when he acted or expressed ideas outside the social norms of Tunisian society. ÒMy childhood was awful and I suffered a lot. I made my coming out at the age of 16, and I think now that it was the biggest mistake of my life. This period I tried to commit suicide because of judgments.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Chehinez/


“My childhood was awful and i suffered a lot. I made my coming out at the age of 16, and i think now that it was the biggest mistake of my life. This period I tried to commit suicide because of judgments.”

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IMG_0353

Jenny/


“I pretty much knew from the get go that I was somewhat different. The word ‘gay’ to me was completely unknown, totally alien. My first experience of this word came from hearing various stories about how disgusting and criminal gays were to society. At the time, homosexual acts were illegal. Witnessing a man taunted and beaten in the street validated the fact that in no way would I ever express my sexuality in this country, the thought was completely terrifying.”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 04 December, 2016. A posed portrait of lesbian couple A (25 years old) & A (25 years old) (+216 25863907, bmbarek.abir@gmail.com, +216 22142156, hammouda.amaf@gmail.com). A & A have been a couple for four years, but have hidden their sexuality from all except to a few close friends. Like many in the LGBTQI+ community in Tunisia, they express their frustration over a society that does not acknowledge their existence: ÒIt was last valentines when we decided to go have a romantic dinner at this nice restaurant where everything was decorated in red with heart shaped lights. The moment we got in, we set our eyes on this nice table for two with lovely candles on top of it, but the waiter directed us to a regular table for four because the other tables were for couples and we werenÕt a couple. How can we be when she is a she and I am a she. It wasnÕt just a ValentineÕs Day incident, it was our everyday life outside our safe bubble. That is why those four years of love were also four years of hiding. And we still hide and we still love.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

A&A/


“It was last valentines when we decided to go have a romantic dinner at this nice restaurant where everything was decorated in red with heart shaped lights. The moment we got in, we set our eyes on this nice table for two with lovely candles on top of it, but the waiter directed us to a regular table for four because the other tables were for couples and we weren’t a couple. How can we be when she is a she and I am a she.”

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rocco

Rocco/


“As a gay male, being in Europe almost seemed more safe than walking the streets of Connecticut and everything surrounding. Little did I know, I was wrong.”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 27 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 24 year old, lesbian woman Soly (+216 50268183, salwa-mjn@live.fr, FB: Soly Minerva). Soly is an activist with Tunisian non-governmental womenÕs rights and LGBTQI+ organization Mawjoudui - We Exist. Like many LGBTQI+ people in Tunisia, coming out is a scary process where reactions are unpredictable. Soly thought, of anyone, her closest friend would offer support. She was wrong. Her friend rejected her and ended their friendship with an SMS: ÒShe is not honored to have a friend like me,Ó Soly recalled. She was distraught: ÒOne night, my over thinking went too much, and I just decided to end it. I took lots of pills, hoping whatever this was, will end. I didnÕt want to be rejected again, or judged one more time. But I didnÕt die, I didnÕt take enough pills, and IÕm thankful for that.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Soly/


“One night, my over thinking went too much, and I just decided to end it. I took lots of pills, hoping whatever this was, will end. I didn’t want to be rejected again, or judged one more time. But I didn’t die, I didn’t take enough pills, and I’m thankful for that. After a few years of being unable to trust people again or to talk about who I am. The universe threw some people who did accept me, they didn’t even care if I liked girls they cared about me. And better yet, I met people who are just like me, who suffered who tried to end it, who survived.”

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romeo-phil

Romeo/


“They say gay is a sin. God created only man and woman. So I say, I don’t care. I am proud what and who I am. God created me as a human.”

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Tunisia, Bizerte. 28 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 17 year old, gay man Mariah (+216 99755846, lgbt.veaffness@gmail.com, IG: beyonce.k.n). Mariah is a high school student and already an activist for LGBTQI+ rights. In school he has been bullied. In July of 2016 it became too much for him, he tried to kill himself: ÒIÕm still young and IÕve seen a lot through my high school years. I came out when I was a freshman. And I got a lot of discriminations. ItÕs true that life has been tough for me, but I got thick skin now, I learned that people will always talk, more importantly they will always be afraid of difference.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Mariah/


“I’m still young and I’ve seen a lot through my highschool years. I came out when I was a freshman. And I got a lot of discriminations. It’s true that life has been tough for me, but I got thick skin now, I learned that people will always talk, more importantly they will always be afraid of difference.”

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e

E/


“One of my closet friends At the time Basically told me that she hated gay people. In religion class, i was taught that LGBT people Had an unchangeable ‘condition’. As a 13 year old who had just started to become self-accepting, being told something like that severely set back me coming to terms with being gay.”

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Freeizraa

Freeizraa/


“I could not believe that in under an hour my situation can switch from being safe and in love with my partner a lover to a criminal humiliated and defeated in the backseat of a police vehicle. I remember I was feeling cold and my voice got weak while I answered their questions. One of the police officers called his boss through the radio and asked him whether to bring me to him or not.
‘Hello boss, we got ‘imitation of the opposite sex case’ should we bring her over to you, or transfer her immediately?’ ‘Imitation… bring her over, bring her.’”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 29 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 18 year old, gay man Maximus Bloo (not his real name) (+216 50300640, wael198w@gmail.com, FB: maximusbloo). Maximus was ÒoutedÓ after meeting an older man using the gay dating app, Grindr. The man blackmailed Maximus, forcing him to have sex with him. After two times, Maximus refused. The man then outed him to his family. Commenting on that period of his life, Maximus says: ÒYoung kids who found out theyÕre gay and still discovering their life. They often get blackmailed by people such as him and pushed to be turned to a material and a tool for old people and other people to have fun with.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Maximus Bloo/


“It didn’t cause me any issues until I turned 13, my friends started talking about girls and how they want to ‘enjoy’ or ‘have fun’ with them. Everyone gets a … everytime they bring that subject up, and I didn’t, I wasn’t even paying attention to it, it made me feel like an outsider, I felt something was off and my thoughts were confirmed when I met Adam, we instantly clicked and we used to always hang out and play, and one night we got intimate and he kissed me, it was beautiful and scary at the same time. My thoughts were true, I AM DIFFERENT.”

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eli

Eli/


“i use two names: eli and yana
to the internet and close friends i’m eli, the nonbinary who’s attracted to all genders and is proud of their identity
to some friends i’m yana the cisfemale pan who’s okay with their sexuality
and to my family i’m yana: cisfemale and straight
ever since i was little i didn’t liked being called a girl. or a boy.”

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Tunisia, Tunis. 25 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 22 year old, gay man Amine (+216 24323670). Amine is a survivor of regular homophobic violence at the hands of his own family. The impact was not only physical. The rejection from those closest to him drove him to attempt suicide several times. His desire to be with the man he loved saw him leave his home in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, to join him in Libya. But the persecution did not end. While walking with his boyfriend on a beach they were stopped by the police. ÒI was caught by the Libyan police,Ó he says, Òthey wanted to kill me. They beat me and detained me for seven days. I had to move back to Tunis, and stay away from my loveÉa piece of me.Ó His boyfriend stayed behind in Libya and married a woman to conceal his sexuality. He occasionally sends Amine money. Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Amine/


“My family beat me, so I tried to commit suicide several times. One day I fell in love with a boy who lived in Libya, so I joined him there.
I was caught by the libyen police, they wanted to kill me. They beat me and detained me for 7 days.
I had to move back to Tunis and stay away from my love…a piece of me.
He got married, even though he is gay, and it depressed me…”

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Polaroid 2

Amina/


“Growing up in Tunisia is not as bad as it is, but it’s tiring. We’re not like other Arabic countries, but we are also not like Europeans, so we grow up having an identity disorder. I discovered I was bi at the age of 15.”

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Polaroid 8

Salah/


“16 was the year of my coming out. I came out to my mother and my older brother. Poor him… he suffered from the pressure of the people of the neighborhood… My mother only worried about not having the cops home. Then, I understood that I will carry this responsibility throughout my entire life. Being responsible for being gay and different at 16 is worse than doing your military service.”

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brickwall-rachel

Rachel/


“I’m a 15 year old girl in the usa. I’ve known i wasn’t like the other kids at my school every since i was 12. I Never knew about lgbt people until I Began to look on the internet. I had always assumed that i would Be like everyone Else when i was older.”

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joss

Joss/


i didn’t know how to start presenting myself as trans because i had always kept things buried inside of me.

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angela-1

Angela/


“When I was growing up my parents fought a lot so I spent a lot of time at my best friend’s house. Her family was very evangelical and I remember her dad coming into the room and telling us it was ‘not right and not normal’ for us to be sleeping so close together. When her mom told us we had to stop spending too much time together it broke my heart.”

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moussa

Moussa/


“In the end of 80s my father emigrated to Italy and we reached him in 1992. I felt very relieved because for sure my original country wasn’t the right place to stay. However growing up in Italy wasn’t that easy. Also here I was bullied and discriminated. First I thought that it was for my colour skin or because I was the nerd of the town. Later I will understand that there was something more.”

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chalese_2085

Chalese/


“I was ashamed and buried in self-judgment, afraid of what my friends and family would think. Having been raised in the LDS community, a part of the Mormon religion, I denied my feelings for a woman and considered never coming out. But after two years of being in the closet, and endless arguments with the woman whose companionship I treasured, I decided to choose what made me happiest: love.”

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24 year old transgender/heterosexual Noelle (last name withheld) moves with great caution around Jamaica. While there are parts of Kingston Jamaica where she feels safe, in others, she says, she must ‘navigate spaces’ carefully knowing that she can be attacked because she presents as a woman. To contact: +1(876)4018 656, noelle92@gmail.com, Social media handle: ms. Noellen. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 29 September 2016

Noelle/


“she told me to be Be-You-Tiful- be you because the real you is beautiful and you’re not here for the approval for anyone so give yourself a break and Be-You-Tiful. These words stuck with me and formed part of me in a literal sense as I had it tattooed on my chest as a reminder to myself every day when I wake up and I am preparing myself for the day ahead. This is the first time I’m speaking so candidly to such a large audience about my gender identity but at this point I really don’t care. I am Jamaican and trans is beautiful and I am beautiful.”

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cameron

Cameron/


If you asked 2013 me where I saw myself in the future, I would have told you dead. today is a different story. today I’m living.

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Mo (left) is a 41 year old Jamaican transgender man. He is a police detective. He says “Jamaicans are very intolerant and homophobic, none the less, I live my life fearlessly” he goes on to say “you can never know when you can become a target… so I am always n defense mode.” Mo is in a long-term relationship with his partner Pinkie. To contact: monique391975@icoloud.com, phone: +1(876)5871997. Social Media: IG: spoiltchildmo FB: Mo Bibi Rowe. He sits with his partner 30 year old Jamiacan lesbian Pinkie says she does not face discrimination common to LGBTQI+ people in Jamaica. She attributes this to her feminine presentation. She says though that “In Jamaica most people don’t have a mind of their own, they just want to hear one person say ‘alright – you’re a lesbian you need for dead.’ It’s like the entire crowd come down on you, ‘you need for dead.’ There’s just not somebody to have a mindset to say ‘you know leave her alone or leave her alone.’” Pinkie is in a long-term relationship with her partner Mo. To contact: monique391975@icoloud.com, phone: +1(876)5910578. Social Media: FB: Exstasii whipped cream Codling. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 29 September 2016

Mo/


“I am always on the alert and really on the defensive because when you have a predominantly male look, like I do, you can never tell when you may become a target so I am always cognisant of that and ready to go into defence mode. I really love Jamaican- it is my homeland. “

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F.J. Genus is a Jamaican queer man of transgender experience working as an IT consultant. In many public spaces he feels unsafe. He describes how every morning he must mentally prepare himself to face a world outside that often doesn’t accept him for the man he identifies as. To contact: +1(876)3135059, email: fjgenus@gmail.com. Social media handles: @to_gentleman (IG, Tw). Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 24 September 2016

F.J./


“Every time I introduce myself I am asked what I have come to refer to as the ‘Annoying Inevitable Question’: ‘What does FJ Stand for?’ the selection of a name is a critical part of the transition process of a transgender individual.”

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Asumi (left) and Oriana stand in the light of a police car during a nightly raid. "There's lots of physical and verbal abuse, and the police will break into the women's homes and arrest all of the women in the house,” says photographer Danielle Villasana. "There are some accounts of police arresting transwomen who aren't even working, they just arrest them for being transgender. A woman might be running to get food during a police raid, in her pajamas and not in her work clothes, but she will still get arrested.”

Takeover: Danielle Villasana/


Danielle Villasana shares stories from “A Light Inside”, documenting transgender women living in Peru.

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