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.

65 year-old, gay man, James Serrano at Brooklyn based GRIOT Circle, (@GRIOTcircle on Instagram) a community-based, multigenerational organization serving LGBTQ elders of color. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Alison Lippy, Allison@allisonlippy.com, Phone +1 410 967 1096. Photography and video by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 04 February 2019

James Serrano/


“as a senior gay man not everything is sunshine, many clouds follow me around but thanks to the love and understanding of my parents, my family, and good friends I am able to survive attitudes and situations”

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Z Fila/


“I decided to forgive my parents for not accepting my sexualty. i forgive them, however, resent the christian faith because it robbed me of my parents.”

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79 year-old, European, gay man Adrian Le Peltier at home in Orlando. Adrian is an actor. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 22 March 2019

Adrian Le Peltier/


“My entire life I’ve felt WRONG! An outsider! I never related to the considered ‘NORM’.”

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Francheska/


“Despite all this I am smiling through the rain for I know there are so many LGBTQ young folks who look at me as their source of strength and inspiration.”

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Gwen/


“I’ve never had a sexual attraction to someone, and even though i’m sex positive, i’ve never been in a deep enough relationship to consider doing so.”

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Khalil/


“I remember now as it was only yesterday, how my father for years used to physically and psychologically abuse me just because of my appearance and thoughts.”

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85 year-old, Jewish lesbian woman Ruthie Berman at home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Ruthie is a retired guidance counselor and widow. Alongside her wife Connie she challenged AmericaÕs laws and attitudes towards same sex relationships. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 29 March 2019

Ruthie/


“This is a statement that fits Connie and my personal and political activism though Connie became an activist.”

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30 year-old, transgender African American female Serenity Lopez Lord at her home in New Orleans. Serenity is a self employed performer. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Myles Golden, mylessgolden@gmail.com, Phone +1 757 751 3135. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 04 March 2019

Serenity/


“It was a struggle but as I grew older I had to stand my ground and let them l know I’m not changing this is me accept it or not.”

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72 year-old, African-American gay man Badili Jones-Goodhope in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Badili is a tour guide. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 28 March 2019

Badili Jones-Goodhope/


“Being who you are is not a choice. You have to choose to not let the indifference and rejection break you. You have to choose that in not being loved that you don’t stop holding space for love.”

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74 year-old, white, gay man Dennis Shelto at home in Orlando. Dennis is widowed. He used to be a clothing designer. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 23 March 2019

Dennis Shelto/


“A stranger grabbed me and put a knife to my throat. He said he hates faggots, thank goodness another group of men saw what was happening and got they guys off me.”

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22 year-old, black, queer, gender non conforming artist AB at Trinity Place Shelter in New York City. AB is homeless. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 05 April 2019

A.B./


“Promise yourself tonight you’ll never give up, and to never leave any stone unturned. You’ve always known your purpose, you’ve always known who you are.”

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Hannah/


“Pride is supposed to be liberating: love who you want. I wanted to love, period, but started to think that if I couldn’t do it in a sexual way, something was wrong with me.”

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23 year-old, black, bisexual, female of trans experience, Raven Carlyle. Raven is a Tarot Card Reader. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 17 March 2019

Raven/


“Oh my womanhood was forged in the fires of self acceptance, tempered by desire and brought up in a home of love, raised in fear”

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69 year-old, hispanic, lesbian woman Yvette Cortes at home in Orlando. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 25 March 2019

Yvette Cortes/


“I guess as a child I felt there was something wrong with me. I would have nightmares. I guess I was in hell or would go to hell because deep down I know I was gay.”

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Nael/


“I always felt that I’m different but at the same time felt i’m normal because that’s who i’m.”

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78 year-old, white gay man Gary ÒLeeÓ Lawson at home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lee is single, retired and a biker. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 29 March 2019

Gary “Lee” Lawson/


“Paul and I were friends and partners for about 7 years, we were both gay, motorcyclist and traveled around a lot. He traveled in his work & both of traveled together and separately. Chicago, Milwaukee, St Louis, Minneapolis , Indy, Nashville, KC, MO +++ In fall of 1983 he got pneumonia that turned out to … READ THE STORY

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24 year old pansexual African-American woman of trans-experience Sophia Lee in Queens, New York. Assistant: Alison Lippy, Allison@allisonlippy.com, Phone +1 410 967 1096. Photography and video by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 06 February 2019

Sophia/


“Life is full of sacrifices and the unfortunate reality for many LGBT youth is that they have to sacrifice so many things just to live authentically. For me, I’ve had to sacrifice the love of my father.”

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Emma Alcedo/

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“When I lived in Venezuela I developed depression and anxiety since I was 16, of course due to many reasons, but mostly because I wasn’t able to accept myself as trans.”

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20 year-old, black/hispanic, bisexual man Peanut in New York City. Peanut (not his legal name) was born in The Bronx. He has been homeless since he was 17. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 03 April 2019

Peanut/


“So many people hated, dislike, talked about and made fun of me, I just thought oh this is it, nothing else today I guess”

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Nicky Bronkhorst/


“my gym teacher motivated the bullying in the gym classes telling me in front of everyone to not act like a ‘pussy’.”

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63 year-old, Welsh-Jew gay/bisexual Rich Burton Jr expresses his gender identity as Òsexual.Ó He sits with his 72 year old live in domestic partner, white, gay man Pedro Barrios at home in Miami, Florida. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 30 March 2019

Rich & Pedro/


“We have shared and cared for one another ever since in my vigor muscles bulging I gave my heart and soul to him eternally.”

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73 year-old, transgender queer women, and veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, Victoria Cruz. She sits in the lounge area of Brooklyn based GRIOT Circle, (@GRIOTcircle on Instagram) a community-based, multigenerational organization serving LGBTQ elders of color. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Alison Lippy, Allison@allisonlippy.com, Phone +1 410 967 1096. Photography and video by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 04 February 2019

Victoria Cruz/


“My name is Victoria Cruz. Born male, in Guánica, Puerto Rico. Known as Boriquén, before the Europeans came to the Caribbean. My real name was Victor Cruz, one of 11 children. I found out that I was really female at an early age. After the second World War, my father moved to Brooklyn, New York … READ THE STORY

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73 year-old, white, gay man John Swallow at home in Dade City, Florida. John is a drag queen. His stage name is Miss Jo Ann. He lives with his husband Russ. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 23 March 2019

John Swallow/


“I’ve been chased down street and mocked and beaten for who I am. It only made me stronger and made me fight for my rights and those of others to exist and live free.”

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21 year-old, homeless heterosexual trans man, Terry Ruggiero at Trinity Place Shelter. Trinity Place Shelter is a non-sectarian, 10-bed transitional shelter that provides LGBTQ youth and young adults with a safe place to sleep, shower, eat and store belongings. Trinity Place Shelter provides a unique home and family-like environment where youth receive individualized care, respect, and the basic services so often denied them. Having such a space, staffed by professional social workers, supports our residents in gaining the skills and confidence needed to exit homelessness and begin to live into their dreams. In 2012 the Williams Institute estimated that of all homeless youth, 40% LGBTQI+. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness says the number is closer to 20%-40%. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Alison Lippy, Allison@allisonlippy.com, Phone +1 410 967 1096. Photography and video by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 31 January 2019

Terry/


“After all the excitement I then got my top surgery and It was a memorable moment for me because I wouldn’t have to layer up my clothing anymore and I was able to wear my shirt off and feel more comfortable in my skin.”

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A posed posed portrait of 34 year old Human Rights Activist fighting for the rights of LGBTI people in Uganda and on the African continent, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. She describes herself as one of the early pioneers of the LGBT struggle in Uganda and founder and former Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, the only exclusively Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Women’s rights organization in the country and currently founder and editor of Kuchu Times and Bombastic Magazine. She is the recipient of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award and the Nuremburg International Human Rights Award. She has several times been evicted by landlords because of her sexuality. She has been physically attacked many times. Kasha can no longer use public transport. “Every time the media talks about homosexuality in Uganda my face appears, the visibility is so much that it exposes me. People have threatened me with death many times, especially on social media. People have wished for me to be knocked down by cars. They want to cut off my head, kill me.” “Even if I receive these threats, words hurt and depress me, at the same time it allows me to know where I need to improve in my work – attitude change – that’s why I keep doing what I do. It hurts, but it doesn’t really put me down. One day it will change. I am happy to be part of the foundation for future generations to build on.” Uganda. March 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

Kahsa/


“I dream of the day I will wake up and walk my dog in the neighborhood and not have to fear to be attacked.”

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Married gay African-American women 68 year-old Sonja Jackson (left) and 83 year-old Evelyn Jenkins Whitaker at home in  Brooklyn, New York. Assistant: Alison Lippy, Allison@allisonlippy.com, Phone +1 410 967 1096. Photography and video by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 05 February 2019

Sonja & Evelyn/


“Sonja and I have been together for 18 years. We were officially married nine years ago in Toronto, Canada. Over all our families have accepted our relationship.”

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A posed portrait of Joseph (not his real name), a Somali living in Kakuma refugee camp in north western Kenya since 2004. Joseph was ostracized by her family for “behaving like a girl.” Joseph identifies as both gay and a trans woman. Homophobia in Kakuma refugee camp is a great source of insecurity says Joseph. Speaking of two of her gay friends she says “One of them has been killed and another friend has been tortured and has escaped the place.” The constant persecution and insecurity weighs heavily on her, as does her positive HIV status: “I had the HIV for two years and I never talk to anyone about the disease… HIV people are not welcome in the camp, those are reasons why I was hiding my disease from others for long.” Talking about her state of mind she says: “I am expecting nothing from this world , there is no cure for this disease and it killed many people. At the moment I am just waiting for death. I have the disease. I could not go to the hospital for treatment. I was persecuted by everywhere even inside the hospital. The local government and NGOs could not help me but I am still alive - I still cannot believe that I am still alive with the disease.” Kenya, October 2017.
The Kakuma Refugee Camp is located in north western Kenya and houses more than 180,000 refugees. The camp is located in a semi-arid desert with temperatures over 30C. LGBTQI+ refugees are a minority; approximately 190 total with 120 Ugandans, and are often targeted by the wider refugee community. The camp, run by the UNHCR, provides food and medical support, however rations meant for a month typically last just two weeks. Treatment facilities are located miles away, and transport is not provided, posing a challenge for those with HIV / AIDS requiring life-saving medication.
While in many places, there has been great progress in recent years in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, including an increasing recognition of same-sex marriage, nearly 2.8 billion people live in countries where identifying as LGBTI is subject to rampant discrimination, criminalization, and even death. Same-sex acts are illegal in 76 countries; in some countries, this can result in being sentenced to death. Behind these statistics, there individuals with unique, often harrowing stories. Where Love Is Illegal was created to tell those stories. 
Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change

Joseph/


“one night while I was with my friend lying down together my brother saw us and told the elderly of the town that those two boys are having sex. The Elderly people of the town denounce me and told me that I am a bad person to the community and we do not want this happen to our kids in our town.”

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40 year-old, black, female of trans experience, Malaysia at home in New Orleans. Malaysia is a Retention Specialist and Miss Black Trans International 2018-2019. (Pronouns: Use Malaysia, not she/her/they/them). Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Myles Golden, mylessgolden@gmail.com, Phone +1 757 751 3135. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 11 March 2019

Malaysia/


“One day, now as an adult, and in charge of my own life, I decided to put on girls clothes and makeup, and go out in the daytime. I had never been so comfortable in my life.”

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Eddy Love (not real name) is a 35 year old bisexual man. He explains that living in a country where the LGBT community are so stigmatized means one finds it difficult to report sex crimes to the police or even talk about same sex rape. “It pains me a lot about what they have done,” says Eddy when talking about the gang rape by five men that he survived as a young man. Ghana. 13 March, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Eddy Love/


“The way that I’m doing with my boyfriend, I can’t be walking and holding each other, kissing outside because it’s not allowed here. Unless I’m in the room with my partner that we know what we are doing”

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A posed portrait of 23 year old Ugandans Ashiraf (left) & Kajjan (right) in Nairobi. Ashiraf identifies as a transgender woman and Kajjan as gay. While same sex marriage is not legal in Uganda, in 2015 the pair conducted a marriage ceremony in a hotel to celebrate their relationship. “We had happiness at the party” says Ashiraf, and then adds “and that was the day.” That was the day their new married life began, and also the day their lives changed for the worse. A friend took photos of the wedding and posted them on social media. Local newspapers got hold of the photos and published them. Two weeks later their neighbors recognized them in the newspaper and went to the police. They locked their door when they heard the mob with the police coming, and hid inside. They could hear them trying to enter and talking together: “They said a lot of stuff, that we are sons of evil, we need to go to hell, we shall kill them direct if we get them.” That night they packed their bags and left for Kenya. But life in Kenya was not what they had hoped. They struggled to be registered by the United Nations refugee agency, and struggled even more to find a place to settle down: “After three months in Kenya, our life was not good at all, as we kept on migrating from one place to another because Kenya is like Uganda they don’t allow us in here. We were beaten, abused, tortured on the way when we were moving,” says Ashiraf. “My boyfriend is HIV positive and I am negative but I have (high blood) pressure. Life is hard because we don’t have money to eat yet we have to take our medicine. The landlord is chasing us out of the house because we don’t have money. I tried to look for jobs but couldn’t get because I naturally look like a transgender. Whenever I go to look for jobs I am abused that I am a lady, sometimes beaten.” Kajjan reiterates the sentiments expressed by his wife: “Up to present time, we are still suffering because I am HIV positive though my boyfriend isn’t, we have nothing to eat, nor food.” Kenya, October 2017.
Nature Network is a Nairobi based organization providing LGBTQI+ refugees in Kenya with support through safe temporary housing, health services, food and security. Nature Network has advocated to police over 50 times, responding to hate crimes, and runs a WhatsApp group of safety tips. Refugees supported have come from Uganda, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan. 
While in many places, there has been great progress in recent years in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, including an increasing recognition of same-sex marriage, nearly 2.8 billion people live in countries where identifying as LGBTI is subject to rampant discrimination, criminalization, and even death. Same-sex acts are illegal in 76 countries; in some countries, this can result in being sentenced to death. Behind these statistics, there individuals with unique, often harrowing stories. Where Love Is Illegal was created to tell those stories. 
Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change

Ashiraf & Kajjan/

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“Then our family got to know about it through the social media and newspapers. So we were ashamed in the community”

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SaAd/


“It’s one thing never knowing the feeling of freedom, but it’s another feeling that go away completely. “

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Vin/


“most people would find me man enough in their own shallow perception but deep inside me,I’m dying”

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Marc McCay/


“Growing up in a war torn country where as a boy you are required to be strong, be brave and not be queer, almost killed my spirit.”

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25 year old transgender man Akosua (front) with his girlfriend Cilla (back) (not real names), a 22 year old bisexual woman. Cilla was blackmailed by a former boyfriend after discovering pictures of her with women. Cilla sunk into a deep depression and tried to kill herself. Her father prevented her. Akosua was raised in a traditional Muslim family, his father is an Imam. After attending a lesbian wedding in another city, he returned home to find out pictures from the event had been sent to his family: “One of my brothers slapped me first, and I was like, "Why? Why did you slap me for? What?" And he's like, "What is this? What disgrace have you bring to our family? Why would you go to a girls' with all the lesbians and stuff? Why would you do that?" My two brothers started beating me up.” After this he fled his hometown. Ghana. 08 March, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Akosua & Cilla/


“Growing up as a lesbian has always been difficult for me because I have been having a life of struggle and hiding from the society view to violent attacks and discrimination.”

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35 year old gay man Nana (last name withheld). 10 years ago he tested HIV positive. He has been on ARVs (Anti retroviral medication) for seven years. For the first three years he did not address his illness until his health took a negative turn. Speaking about the positive test result he says: “In the beginning it wasn't easy because that's what I say, blame games. I also started looking around. So, where did I got it? Where did I got it, where did I got it? But after taking the medication, thinking positively, I'm okay.” Explaining why he didn’t want to show his face when being photographed he says: “If you are even diagnosed HIV, you can even lose your job without them not telling you that because of this that your job is being taken away from you. They find a way, and then you are off. So that is why my face need not to be shown.” 07 March, 2018. Ghana. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Nana/


“Living as an MSM is difficult in Ghana. I’m a 35 year old MSM guy here. It all started ten years ago when I met a man in a Abaasa, and we exchanged numbers. I visited him later and it all started, but before then I was feeling sexual urges for the same sex. Since … READ THE STORY

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Zaind (not his real name) is a 30 year old HIV positive gay man. Like many from Ghana’s LGBT community, he has faced discrimination from health workers: “The first time I went to the hospital, I met one nurse, and told that nurse the reason why I fell sick, but I was not pleased with how the nurse welcome me and chastised me with the bible preaching.” Zaind also faced bigotry from those he thought closest to him. He told his mother he was HIV positive: “My mother told me am not part of her children. She has said that this am doing is a curse.” Ghana, Accra. 15 March, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Zaind/


“In Ghana, if you are a homosexual you won’t get things easy. Especially in the community you live or anywhere you are, you won’t get things easy.”

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zAINAB/


“I hope one day I could feel comfortable with myself, and even live with a women. HOPEFULLY it will be soon.”

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32 year old Mr. D (not his real name) grew up in a conservative and religious family where carrying on the family name was important. Mr. D was married to a woman and they had a child together. They are now separated. His ex-wife knows about his sexuality, but many in his family do not. “Many, many gays, many homosexuals end up by getting married, getting married with members of the opposite sex - many times, many times, mainly to try and keep their image in front of family.” Mozambique. 17 February, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Mr. D/


“I decided to turn my story around, after much fighting, and today I live well because I came out in the open before my brothers and my mother.”

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Anuj Peter is a 30 year-old gay man and a Program Officer for Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation. One of the main pressures on young men and women in Nepal, he says, is for them to get married. Anuj was not immune to this pressure: “To show me as a perfect man I decided to get married with a lady.” Many gay men get married he says. Fortunately, he says, he didn’t make that mistake: “When I get engaged with her, we decided for pre-honeymoon. We went to for the one night and at that time I feel that that was the worst night of my life. When I start kissing her I feel that this is not the person what I supposed to do because that I already that the fun with the boys. And I compare how I feel with the boys and how I feel with the girls because that was the first time I was kissing some girls in the relationship with. So I think if I cannot spend 10 minutes with her in a one room, how can I spend my whole life in that room.” He pulled out of the engagement: “This is not my right to make her life destroy,” he says. He wishes though that LGBT couples had the same rights as straight couples: “sometime you feel alone and wish that Nepal will legalize marriage equality.” Ultimately he just wants the same rights as everyone else. His message to fellow Nepali LGBT community members is this: “Fight for yourself and fight for your community and the family will accept you. Because there is the love and the connection with the Nepali family.” Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world – 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. 06.11.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Anuj Peter/


“When it comes to reality it was really different. At that time I scared that marriage is not only about the sum of being husband and wife to society. Another part is physical and emotional attachment as well. So I think to quit that relationship.“

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Zulfikar Fahd/


“Yesterday was the most historic day of my life. Canada granted my asylum claim, and from now on I’m able to permanently reside in this country with a chance of being a citizen in a few years.”

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30 year old Delicious (not his real name) is a gay man from Ghana. He says he doesn’t feel safe in his own country. When walking with friends one night, they were attacked by a gang in the street. They were able to escape, however when they reported the assault to the police they were ignored: “I reported to the police and the police was like, ‘Wow. So you're gay?’ You know, instead of them listening to what happened to me, they didn't. But was their head, ‘Okay. It's a gay issue.’ They were like, ‘Alright. So if you are gay, so be it. Then fine.’ My issue was brushed off. They didn't even do any follow ups. They didn't even arrest those who attacked me. So I don't feel safe. I don't feel safe, more times. You need to be doing your things indoors, always” Ghana. 12 March, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Delicious/


“My family and friends do not understand why I behave that way. Sometimes they call me names. And my mom used to punish me a lot for that.”

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Drica is a transgender woman and LGBT health advocate. She works with transgender women, educating them on proper condom use. Many in the Mozambican LGBTQI+ community site stigma in healthcare as an impediment to transgender women seeking treatment. Drica has experienced this first hand: “When they called me there, the documents on the form they called Alfeu [Drica’s birth name]. And to me this is a very ugly thing, it's a very boring thing. They called me a name, that name ... that name for me is very painful. I'd rather have them call me Drica.” Mozambique. 21 February, 2018. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Drica/


“now I’m a transgender woman. It’s what identifies me and in this struggle of my life I had several difficulties with the rest of my family, with my uncle, in the family.”

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