What do you see as the biggest obstacle to achieving LGBTI equality?  

One of them is the existence of legislation that is contrary to human rights standards, and this relates also very much to the criminalization of same sex relations.

The second one is the existence of stigma. That is the perpetuation of false associations between a person’s identity and certain behavior considered to be undesirable or criminal.

And the third one is negation: The flat-out denial that LGTBI persons exist in a certain context or that violence and discrimination against them exists.

Are there any recent developments that give you hope?

The eradication of violence and discrimination has made enormous strides in the last 40 years. We need to place this into context. Only a few decades ago, pathologization, that is considering that being gay or lesbian or trans was the norm, rather than the exception. As of today, we have seen the completion of the process of depathologization by the World Health Organization (WHO), whereby it’s no longer considered to be an illness, any form of sexual orientation or gender identity.

There are also enormous strides in terms of decriminalization. Over 50 countries have decriminalized in the last few decades. There are enormous strides and enormous movement that give hope. This is one of the issues that demonstrates that real social change is possible within a generation.

What is the most important thing that allies can do in their communities to stand up for LGBTI human rights?

I think that there needs to be strongly held respect for communities and populations that are affected by somebody’s actions. There’s a principle that must be respected: Do nothing about me without me and do nothing about them without them. The idea is simple: When adopting actions that affect communities, populations, or peoples, you need to ensure that these communities, populations, or peoples are involved substantially in the process of design of the public policy, the strategy, or the legal reform process that is involved.

Read the full interview with Victor Madrigal-Borloz about defending LGBTQI human rights by Kelli Meyer at United Nations Foundation.