Lady Phyll Akua Opoku-Gyimah has made a rallying call for governments around the world to “step up to the challenge” posed by anti-LGBTQ groups.
The activist and campaigner was speaking as she prepared to step down as Executive Director of the LGBTQ+ charity, The Kaleidoscope Trust. She will now take on the first CEO position at UK Black Pride.
On Wednesday (6 December) Lady Phyll addressed guests at the Trust’s Annual Parliamentary Reception where she acknowledged the “bittersweet” nature of her departure from the organisation.
Referencing Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law passed earlier this year, Lady Phyll explained that the Trust’s partners in the country have already experienced forced evictions, trying to find safe houses for community members, and threats of violence, as well as faced decisions on whether to flee.
Lady Phyll also highlighted “homophobic church-led” movements in Botswana and Namibia where there have been rises in anti-LGBTQ hate speech and violence. However, she said the Kaleidoscope Trust’s work evidenced that “with the right support activists and civil society organisations around the world can change policies and legislation as well as hearts and minds.”
Lady Phyll went on to say this support had to be “absolutely consistent.” It was here she issued her call that “governments and other funders must step up to the challenge. And I can’t stress that enough, it’s must step up to the challenge.”
“There is no time for waiting because this is about free, safe, and equal lives for LGBTI+ people around the world”
Welcoming £40 million from the UK government to protect LGBTQ+ rights around the world, as well as papers indicating that progress is “at risk,” Lady Phyll maintained that the UK government must “go further and must go faster.”
She continued: “The time for waiting is over. People’s lives are at risk. We have seen firsthand all too often what happens to our partners in the global south and east.” She also called on all political parties to pledge to support the charity’s policy manifesto, which Lady Phyll said was “fully developed as a strategy promoting global LGBTI rights.”
In her closing remarks, she also told the audience what she hears from activists about what support means for them. “We need to make sure that the UK is a leader in this movement. There is no time for waiting because this is about free, safe, and equal lives for LGBTI+ people around the world.”
Lady Phyll will step down from the Kaleidoscope Trust officially at the end of the year. She will remain involved in the organisation as a patron. Lady Phyll co-founded UK Black Pride in 2005. It is the world’s largest celebration for African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and Caribbean-heritage LGBTQI+ people.