Rainbow Railroad — an international organization helping LGBTQ+ people find a path to safety — has launched a new #60in60 campaign to save 60 lives in the final 60 days of the year.
The organisation exists to help LGBTQ+ people get out of danger to somewhere safe. In the spirit of and as a homage to the Underground Railroad, the mission of Rainbow Railroad is to help LGBTQ+ people as they seek safe haven from state-enabled violence, murder or persecution.
In more than 70 countries around the world, LGBTQ+ people face extreme violence and persecution. So far this year, Rainbow Railroad have received requests from more than 1200 individuals asking for help, hoping to flee. At any given time, Rainbow Railroad is working on hundreds of open cases.
“The stakes are high,” says executive director Kimahli Powell. “There are at least 60 individuals, right now, waiting for our help. We need the entire international community to come together and help us give as many people as possible a chance at freedom.”
The goal of the #60in60 Campaign is quite simple: to raise $600,000 and help save 60 lives in 60 days. The Campaign ends on December 31.
“The anti-gay crackdowns we saw in Chechnya in 2017, and in Egypt in 2018, are part of a disturbing trend of violence and persecution from various state leaders who act with impunity,” says Powell, pointing to Indonesia, Bangladesh and Uganda as three additional recent examples.
This is why the number of people who reach out to us each year is growing and we should do more to ensure persecuted LGBTQI people can enter safe countries.
To date, Rainbow Railroad has assisted more than 600 people. Each case requires thousands of donation dollars to help just one person escape persecution in their home country.
In 71 countries, queer and trans people can face criminal charges under colonial-era anti-gay laws that can result in life in prison, according to ILGA’s 2017 report.
In eight countries, the death penalty can be applied. In many countries, LGBTQI people are outed in the media, attacked by mob violence, sexually assaulted, or rounded up in state-sanctioned crackdowns by police.