Domestic LGBT issues are still important and far from settled. But, after five years of highlighting them at Our Fund’s Fall Forum, David Jobin, CEO and president of Our Fund, thought it was time to shed some light on international LGBT issues.
“They’ve been incredibly interesting conversations but I felt, after five years, we were ready to kind of turn the page and talk about different topics. Not just ones that are in our back yard. We can think a little more globally. People are being thrown off roofs, being put to death for being gay and lesbian.”
Our Fund, an organization that seeks to unite LGBT donors with LGBT organizations, will hold its 6th Annual Fall Forum, also known as the National LGBT Leadership Forum, on Monday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale.
Jobin said a lot of members of the LGBT community with the resources to help make a positive impact on LGBT individuals abroad will be at the Fall Forum. “I would be happy if we came away with a more informed, more sympathetic audience about these issues.”
According to the United Nations, many nations, mostly in North Africa and the Middle East, still punish LGBT individuals with either jail time or the death penalty. And in some nations, such as Russia, while LGBT relationships have been decriminalized, individuals still face a lot of cultural and religious persecution for who they are.
To counter that persecution and help change the culture, Steve Roth, director of global initiatives, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and one of the panelists for the Fall Forum, said his organization tries to change hearts and minds in a more personal and organic way.
By helping to change the culture of corporations, Roth hopes to change the culture of the countries those corporations are located. Governments may not listen to human rights advocates, he said, but they are more inclined to listen to businesses.
“Corporations have a unique and powerful platform to speak from.” But it’s not about applying financial pressure, such as when PayPal cancelled plans to open an operations center in North Carolina after that state passed its controversial transgender bathroom bill. “It’s more subtle than financial pressure. The first step is for companies to provide a safe and nurturing environment.
It’s not something that’s going to happen necessarily overnight but eventually that can help a [pro-LGBT] platform.”
Roth adds that rather than be the “ugly Americans” and use “neo-colonialism” to try and “tell people what to do” on LGBT rights from the outside, the key is to work with existing LGBT rights groups from within and assist them in their mission. “Partnering with them so they can do their work.”
Joining Roth on the panel are Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida; Angeline Jackson, executive director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica; Micheal Ighodaro, Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention and Graeme Reid, director of LGBT Rights Program, Human Rights Watch.
Admission is free but space is limited. Register at Our-Fund.org/forum2016.