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.



“My journey started with fear and others knowing my attraction was for boys, trying to change, trying to fit, ran away unable to accept who I was”


Bob Frew/

“Since I had already experimented and enjoyed teenage sexual excursions with other boys, I knew that she was talking to me, and that was enough to put me in the closet.”


Sharon Durrant/

“The homophobic behaviors I have experienced in my life have been subtle and over, intentional and unintentional”


Elliot & Peyton/

“Growing up in rural Louisiana is unlike everything in the world – beauty beyond what I can describe. But the culture surrounding me was much different.”

29 year old Eshan Regmi describes himself as follows: ÒMy biological identity is intersex. My gender identity is male. I am heterosexual.Ó He defines intersex as Òthose whose internal or external  reproductive organs do not match the traditional definition.Ó Detailing his early life he says: ÒI was born in 1989 as a daughter in a lower middle class family. I was a brilliant student, and I was always a topper in my school. At the age of thirteen when I was studying in class eight, I began developing masculine characteristics. My parents were in great pain.Ó This is when the discrimination began. ÒSociety began calling me different things. They looked at me differently, and started whispering as soon as I walked by. ÒIs this a boy or a girlÓÑ and laugh at meÉ My friends did not allow me to sit next to them or play with them. Teachers pulled my hair or pinched my breast. I left schoolÉ I started spending time alone. I cried a lot. I felt I was alone in this world. Why is god punishing me? I tried committing suicide several times. My parents were saddened to find me in this condition.Ó His father in particular never gave up on Eshan. ÒMy dad was in pain. Because for whatever I wasÑI was his child and he loved meÉ He realized that I was not like other daughters.Ó And then, his father died. ÒI felt that there was nobody left for me in this world. I felt that I was very broken.Ó Against his familyÕs wishes Eshan left home. He eventually came across Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation. Their focus was not on intersex but through them he started to learn more about the issue. Eshan started doing work with the organisation. On several occasions he tried to have relationship with women, but it never worked out. That was before he was reunited with an old friend. ÒWhen I felt alone in my village a person had helped me in many ways. She was my only friend. Later, I found out that she wanted to spend her life with me.Ó Eshan told her all about being intersex. ÒI warned her to not be closer. But thankfully it turned out that her childhood friend was just like me. She then agreed to be with me. We decided to live together. I dont know how much she loves me but I love her a lotÉ I had nobody and she constantly took care of me.Ó Complicating their relationship is the fact that they are from different castes. ÒI am a Brahmin and she is a Dalit. After my relationship began, my family learned of her caste. They resisted our union but I have always been insistent.Ó While EshanÕs brothers are aware of his partnerÕs caste, his mother is not. ÒI have always been rebellious,Ó he says mischeviuously. ÒMy mother does not know my partnerÕs caste, and she has eaten the food cooked from Ôan untouchableÕ.Ó While life has much improved, it is far from perfect. ÒMy identity has been my biggest challenge. I did not get jobs or opoortunities. I do not have the chance to live a dignified life and have faced discrimination at every turn.Ó Speaking of the future Eshan says ÒI want to do good work for the intersex community. I am in the process of starting my own organisation. I hope that my activism will allow people from the Intersex community to live a dignified life.Ó Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world Ð including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 31.10.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Eshan Regmi/

In many places the ‘I’ is kept separate from LGBTI. But within the I—the same way man and women can have different sexual orientation and gender identity—its the same with an Intersex person.

Marcel (not his real name), a 35 year old gay man and healthcare worker, has not come out to his family. He tested positive for HIV in 2007. He says he contracted the virus because he didn’t understand how to protect himself. “The solution is more of education” he says. In a society that highly values family, Marcel’s mother urged him to find a wife. She also saw it as a way to hide his sexuality: “She was really warning me with getting my wedding and getting a child and also to cover up who I am. To cover up what would think or people suspect me to be, within the family or outside the family.” Marcel says this is not unusual:“There are a lot more LGBT people within the community who are forced themselves to get married and to have kids. Just to cover up, just to change the perception or the misconceptions about their families and the people they live with.” Ghana. 15 March, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change


“My junior brothers and my parents do suspect me, but I always find a way to educate them on my sexual life. They don’t really feel comfortable, but my Dad and Mum said they love me who I am and accept me the way I am.”

23 year old Avelino (sitting) & 25 year old Neston (lying) are a gay couple. Neston’s family did not approve of his homosexuality. Avelino, byt contrast, when he cam out to his mother, she accepted him. Avelino recalls when Neston had a fight with his family, “‘Why don't you come and live with me,” Avelino said, “let's live together in my house’ and he asked ‘Are you serious?’ and, because of what my mother had told me before, I said ‘Yes’.” Avelino’s mother welcomed Neston, but his father did not know about his son’s sexuality at the time: “It was a huge shock when he found out, we had already been going out for about 6 months when he (his father) found out exactly what we meant to each other. It was such a big shock that we spent about 2 days out in the street… The whole family here had a meeting, in a weird way, a big confusion and everyone, brothers, nephews, everyone revolted against my father ‘He is everything, he works hard in school, he works hard in athletics... What difference does it make?’ I still get emotional when I remember that my father sat with us, apologized and asked him [Neston] to live with us.” But not everyone has been so accepting. When a photo of Avelino and Neston kissing was posted on facebook, Avelino, an international track athlete, lost his spot on the team: “They were made aware of my sexual orientation, they stopped summoning me for international competitions… To let go of the Mozambican Athletics Federation in order to live what I am, who we are... I do not regret anything, if I had to go back in time and do something different, I would not do anything different, I would do everything the same.” Maputo, Mozambique. 22 February, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Avelino & Neston/

We are a gay couple, we are a couple together for almost 4 years, like a common couple we have gone through many problems, but love has always spoken louder.

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.


“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…”

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: 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


“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.”

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,, 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


“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.”

A posed portrait of 29 year old Wolfheart (not his real name) from Beirut, Lebanon. In July 2011 he was arrested: “I was in a cruising area in Beirut. I was with my partner, in my car, driving around, meeting new people of course. I started chatting with someone in a car coming in the opposite direction. We were talking when a green car with tinted windows stopped behind us. The car in which the person I was talking to drove off quickly. Before I knew it I had the barrel of a Kalashnikov against my head and I was ordered out of the car. My partner tried to escape, but he was caught. One of them was wearing a military uniform. They shouted at me to put my hands behind my back, they handcuffed me to my partner and blindfolded us. We were taken up to the police office and they starting searching us. We had to take off our pants and drop our underpants. We were made to squat to see if we were hiding anything. One of the three officers in the room took out his mobile phone and started to take pictures while the others would take turns making fun of us, making signs behind us, and the other would slap us. They took my partner to another room. Then I started hearing my partner screaming next door. They were torturing him. I felt sad, we had been together for six years, it was horrible to think of him in that situation. They found gay porn (on my phone). When they found that I started to feel scared. They didn’t stop insulting us. They would ask us questions like “do you like to get fucked?!” If we didn’t answer they would slap us.” For three days they were tortured and questioned. They were then taken from the military department to the police department. They were placed in a small airless room. “I felt like I was suffocating there.” They stayed in there for 12 days. They were then sent to the police office specialized in investigating moral issues. “We were there for 18 days sharing a small cell with, at one time, 22 others.” The interrogation continued. “They asked us many questions about my sexuality. They continued to beat my partner. I could sometimes hear him screaming.” After 18 days they were taken to court. There they waited seven days for trial, “we were being charged with homosexuality.” They were given a prison sentence of 45 days and a fine of US$200. “I was very happy to leave prison. But I was unhappy because the news had reached my partners family and they were really unhappy. We had to break up.” “Six months later I drove through the same area and saw the same guys doing the same thing, holding a gun to the head of some people in a car and arresting them. I felt angry, I would like to see their own children subjected to this treatment! I felt angry but powerless and that at anytime I might receive the same treatment.” Beirut, Lebanon. February 2015.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change


“The crime was that I am homosexual, and the punishment was forty days in jail losing my job, and losing my partner.”



“This is the tradition. I know he will keep trying and if he doesn’t do it with his own hand one of the family members will… but I was born this way and I will die this way!”

Skye Lee

Skye Lee/

“I am prepared to unfurl my wings and share love, positivity, and inspiration with people across the globe.”

Prasenjit Das

Prasenjit Das/

“Being attracted to men was, for me, just another facet of human nature.”


Justin Anantawan/

“Queer Asian PHAs, especially newcomers, face the additional barriers such as lack of access to resources in their native language and social isolation.”




“I was shocked and in denial and scared. I started to think that no one would want to speak to me, that I would lose my job and that I would be completely rejected by society…I started thinking that I was better off dead.”


Kaleb A Tak/

“I try to be the strange I wanna see in this world. I feel I am very lucky to live in a time where I can be so authentically myself.”



“EVERY 29 HOURS a LGBTQAI+ person dies because of their sexuality or gender identity. It’s very scary to be here.”

Geneva Convention

Geneva Convention/

“I almost died in the Beirut Port Explosion, but what it taught me was that life is frail, life is fragile and life is silly.”

Jelena Vermillion

Jelena Vermillion/

“We can experience ostracism, judgement, hatred violence, and contempt simply for being who we are or for the work we engage in.”



“I felt sexualized, denigrated, reduced to a criminal and an abomination.”

Emily Onizuka

Emily Onizuka/

“What was wrong with me? Was I some cold-hearted monster who couldn’t feel love?”



“We are human, you are human. I am merely a mirror of everything you and a human can be. Do not let that anger you, let that free, heal and Inspire you to live authentically as you.”


Lamiaa B./


“I felt trapped and horrified. I was scared for her life, my life, and my family”



“The Ballroom scene is a place where you can be free,free,free to be you spread your wind and fly high”

Shemerirwe Agnes

Shemerirwe Agnes/

“Time is now, no one will speak for your rights if you don’t speak up”




“Queer Asian culture seems to only recently come out of the shadows, and its renaissance is now blossoming like a blooming lotus in muddy waters”




“I am a human being, hereby claiming my fluid essence, my right to be whoever I am and anyone I want to be whenever I wish it.”




“As a trans person, you have two possible paths: work hard, get exploited, get nothing; or earn money. It’s not that you want to prostitute yourself, it’s that there is no other choice.”


Isabella Gamk/

“I knew since age 12 that I should have been born female and I finally got became one at age 59.”



“My parental ‘hurdle’ to overcome was the feelings and internal biases regarding the perception of the process indicative of gender discovery.”



“My wish is that one day Queer kids can share similar stories to mine and that our journeys become a normalized part of society.”



“I celebrate the beauty of human beings through my work, honoring every individual’s uniqueness and spirit. I use makeup artistry and hair styling as a vehicle for spiritual expression and freedom.”



“When our society’s politics and policies only reflect cisnormativity, we believe that is the norm.”

Omar Nunez Golding

Omar Nuñez Golding/

“It was me who was thrown out of the place along with my companion because ‘it’s wrong’ for two men to kiss, because, although it’s not illegal, these people of the nightclub shielded their homophobia alleging the ‘right of admission’.”



“We pray for the Ukrainians and we pray for Russians who don’t want and don’t need that war. Love wins!”




“It hasn’t been easy but coming out gives you that freedom, claiming yourself and knowing yourself better”




“My coming out is the most positive result of my participation in a reality show. Having confessed to the whole of Ukraine that I was gay,”