Almost 1.8 billion people live in countries where identifying as lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex could lead to imprisonment, corporal punishment or even death. 72 nations around the world have criminal laws against sexual activity by LGBTQI+ people.
That is 72 countries where non-conforming individuals who love each other must do so in secret. Photographer Robin Hammond traveled to over a dozen countries as a part of his “Where Love is Illegal” campaign to document and collaborate with individuals facing relentless discrimination.
Bigotry thrives in environments where those discriminated against are denied the right to speak out against the injustices they face. While the laws of each country vary — from intent to commit an obscene act or the right to free expression of sexuality and gender identity — the brutality of each punishment is shocking.
Sadly, discrimination and hatred is not limited to countries that outlaw love. Worldwide, violence and prejudice against the LGBTQI+ community is rampant, targeting those who simply wish to live openly as themselves.
Working with a global network of volunteers, Hammond created Witness Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing human rights through visual storytelling. Those who are photographed in this global campaign were able to choose how they wanted to pose, what they wanted to wear and how they wanted to present themselves. They hand-wrote their stories and letters to share with the world.
Media outlets often tell us about laws, crimes and atrocities, but too often we do not see or hear from the affected people themselves, the people who dare to live in places where their love is illegal.
The opening reception will be held on Saturday, February 02, 06:00 p.m. – 09:00 p.m. The exhibit will be on view through March 24, 2019. There will be an artist talk on Thursday, February 07 at 07:00 p.m.
About Robin Hammond
The winner of two World Press Photo prizes, the RF Kennedy Journalism Award, five Pictures of the Year International Awards, the W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography, the recipient of six Amnesty International awards for Human Rights journalism, and named by Foreign Policy as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers,” Robin Hammond has dedicated his career to amplifying the stories of marginalised groups through long term photographic projects. Robin is the founder of Witness Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing human rights through visual storytelling.
About Where Love Is Illegal – A Witness Change Project
Witness Change produces highly visual storytelling on seldom-addressed human rights abuses. It exposes oppression and humanizes the oppressed, it amplifies the voices of those who have survived abuse, documents the stories of those who have not, and stands for the end of human rights violations for generations to come. Witness Change collaborates with experts and advocates to transform opinions, open minds, and change policies. To learn more, please visit here.
For more information about Where Love is Illegal, please visit here.
Bronx Documentary Center
St. Mary’s Annex
364 E. 151st Street
Bronx, NY 10455