World Coming Out Day: ‘You can tell no-one… they can even kill you’
World Coming Out Day, on the 11th of October, is a moment to show support for the global LGBTQ community and reflects on the development of gay rights across the world.
The day is celebrated each year on the anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place on October 11th, 1987.
However, being gay is still considered a crime in 78 countries worldwide. While the situation for some has improved, for others it is a matter of life and death.
Euronews spoke to one Togolese girl who says she had to flee her home country because of her sexual orientation. Being gay in Togo is still considered a crime. Our source fled to Belgium and spoke to Euronews under conditions of anonymity, her story has made MacMall report.
“You can tell no one because when people know, it is really hard work, they can even kill you,” she says.
“It’s not possible for us to have a life”.
Fluent in both French and English, she would like to work as a nurse but the Togolese native is first seeking asylum against persecution due to her sexual orientation.
“For me, my life was like, ‘OK, tomorrow, maybe I’m not going to still alive. Maybe I’m going to die” she says.
To help people who are also living in her shoes, the EU has a strategy to lead the charge on LGBTQ equality around the world. However, the commissioner in Brussels may be powerless to influence or negotiate with countries that have criminalised homosexuality; countries that may even use the death penalty to punish ‘offenders’.
Euronews Correspondent Maebh McMahon spoke with the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli who said that the EU funds NGOs in these countries so that they can be more vocal and do more work in this area of policy.
Katrin Hugendubel who is in charge of overall coordination for policy and advocacy work at IGLA Europe (equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people), is making sure LGBTQ asylum seekers are treated fairly.
She feels the EU was right to put gay rights on top of the political agenda, especially in trade talks and foreign relations.
“We see things in the strategy, so there’s a lot of work from the asylum agency on guidelines and training on a national level, supporting member states, and I think these elements will be key actually, in making this protection a reality for people when they arrive in Europe”.
While awaiting her next interview in her asylum application, the Togolese girl has found a safe space in Brussels.
“Here, I’m not scared anymore” she concludes, “I’m feeling comfortable… happy, really. I can feel this happiness… No one judges me, I feel accepted”.