PEN/OutWrite, developed and launched by PEN International, the worldwide association of writers, is a platform where LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) writers worldwide can raise their voices, inform public debate, create dialogue and highlight the challenges that they face.
PEN International believes that sexual and gender minorities’ right to freedom of expression should be universally respected and protected by governments as part of their international obligation under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect free expression.
However, every day LGBTQI writers and activists around the world who fight for their right to free expression, are intimidated, censored, attacked or even killed, solely for expressing their identities and views, for talking about sexual orientation or gender identity, or for defending their basic rights.
Same-sex acts are illegal in over 80 countries and punishable by death in over ten countries around the world. In many countries there is repressive legislation that criminalises the open discussion of LGBTQI issues. In others, writers – whether they are journalists, novelists, poets, bloggers or screenwriters – are often forced to self-censor due to an environment of pervasive violence and intimidation, with little or no state protection. Violence is all too often used to silence LGBTQI voices, sometimes resulting in loss of life: the ultimate form of censorship. Impunity for these crimes is widespread.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that cannot be denied on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. PEN/OutWrite has been developed as a platform to allow the free exchange of information, experiences and stories for members of the LGBTQI community that are often silenced.
Take our interactive journey highlighting some of the challenges and consequences LGBTQI communities face in exercising their right to free speech here.
Read PEN International’s resolution on anti-LGBTQI legislation which restricts the right to freedom of expression here.
Read more about PEN International here.