As people all over the world prepare to wish those they love a Happy Valentine’s Day, we look at the stark reality that prevents so many from freely showing their affection.

Today, all over London, teenagers are exchanging shy smiles and giant teddy bears; couples are sharing kisses over candlelit dinners; there are first dates and third dates and sofa dates. Today is a day full of eye-rolling cynics and secret smiles, a day which divides us all into romantics and realists. A chance to show your beloved some special affection or pure commercialism dressed up in flowery font?

In other words, today is Valentine’s Day.

At TEDxLondon, we want to use this Valentine’s Day to put the focus on those who really deserve our attention and compassion; those for whom an expression of love is not just a sweet sentiment, but a brave, radical and dangerous act.

Homosexuality is still illegal in 70 countries, with LGBTQI+ people facing limited protection against discrimination in areas such as employment, housing and health.

In January, activists in Russia reported a new crackdown against LGBTQI+ people in Chechnya, with the Russian LGBT Network believing 40 people to have been imprisoned and two to have died under torture since December 2018. Around the same time, a prominent Nigerian police officer announced to her 125,000 Instagram followers that gay people should “leave the country or face prosecution”.

Even in more progressive parts of the world, LGBTQI+ people face disproportionate persecution and the threat of violence daily, with the recent high-profile attack of Jussie Smollett in Chicago highlighting the very real threat to LGBTQI+ individuals, particularly those of colour.

There is positive progress being made, with strides in LGBTQI+ rights taking place across the world every day, but there is still a long way to go before a love ‘beyond borders’ is not only accepted, but celebrated.


“DID YOU KNOW: A quarter of the world’s population believes that being LGBT should be a crime” – Stonewall


Spread the love

What can you do to support LGBTQI+ communities and spread the love to those who need it this Valentine’s Day? The organisations below are a good place to start:

  • Free & Equal – United Nations for LBGT Equality
  • Stonewall – campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain.
  • UKLGIG – charity promoting equality and dignity for LGBTI people seeking asylum in UK.
  • Gendered Intelligence – increase understandings of gender diversity.

Further Reading: Love on Top

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