Jessica Stern serves as the Executive Director for OutRight Action International, the oldest U.S-based organization focused on LGBTIQ rights internationally (formerly the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission or IGLHRC). OutRight implements a model of change that includes activism, training, and documentation. Working in six regions including Latin America, Asia, North America, Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Europe and Central Asia, their work continues to provide a voice for the silenced.
While her 12 hour days can become draining she has been able to make tremendous impacts nationally and globally. Previously through her work with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch she investigated advocacy efforts in Iran, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa and United Arab Emirates. To date, one of her biggest accomplishments at OutRight was publishing a graphic novel titled Yousef and Farhad depicting the struggles for LGBTIQ Iranians.
While much of Sterns position requires copious amounts of traveling, she still finds time to teach a course titled LGBT Rights Internationally: Contemporary Issues and Fundamental Principles in the school of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. This spring course is one of very few at Columbia addressing the importance of LGBTQI rights internationally.
With many activists there are several goals they have in mind. Going forward Stern hopes to see gender identity fully accepted, the elimination of intersex surgeries without consent, the decriminalization of sodomy, and no laws against sex workers. As with any non-profit organization, there is a constant struggle for resources. If you are personally moved by the phenomenal work of Jessica Stern and the OutRight Action International Organization, please donate here!
Written by: Kenya Crawford