15 Largest LGBT Rights Organizations In The World

By Chris Kolmar - Feb. 25, 2021

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The legal and cultural acceptance of LGBT rights and individuals belonging to the community has grown a lot during the past several decades.

Although there is still plenty of remaining work to be done, we as a society could never have achieved this progress without the dedication and efforts of LGBT organizations around the globe.

Although countless others deserve recognition, this article will just focus on 15 of the largest LGBT organizations and discuss their activities and achievements.

These 15 LGBT organizations are:

  1. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGBTIA).

    The ILGBTIA, also known as the ILGA in Europe, is an international organization that unites 1593 LGBTI groups from across the world.

    Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the organization represents over 155 countries and is accredited by the United Nations for NGO Ecosoc consultative status.

    The ILGBTIA was established in 1978 at a conference for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. The organization’s original name was the International Gay Association (IGA) until 1986 when it was then changed to its current name to include more groups.

    The organization’s main activities include:

    • Campaigning for international human and civil rights.

    • Petitioning the United Nations and different country’s governments.

    • Sponsoring the International Intersex Forum, a gathering of intersex organizations and activists.

    • Creating homophobia reports that map out countries that criminalize same-sex relationships between consenting adults.

    • Running world conferences to discuss global LGBT issues and activities.

  2. Amnesty International.

    Also referred to as AI or simply Amnesty, Amnesty International is a UK-based non-governmental organization committed to defending human rights.

    The organization’s main objective is to draw attention to human rights abuses around the world, often by influencing and moving public opinion to create pressure on the governments involved with said abuses.

    Amnesty officially considers capital punishment as “the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights,” but also commonly tackles human rights abuses regarding lesbian and gay rights.

    The organization has over 7,000,000 members as of early 2021. A number of these are paid professionals, but the vast majority are voluntary members.

    Amnesty largely structures itself as a conglomeration of smaller groups around the world that coordinate with each other. There are 63 of these groups, each with its board of directors.

    A few of Amnesty International’s many notable activities from throughout its existence include:

    • A Conspiracy of Hope. A Conspiracy of Hope was a tour of six benefit concerts that took place in 1986. The purpose was to raise general international awareness for human rights.

    • Artists for Amnesty. A program that endorsed a variety of cultural and artistic works with themes relating to human rights.

      A few examples include 12 Years a Slave, Blood Diamond, and Trouble the Water.

    • Covid-19 in Qatar. In 2020, Amnesty raised attention concerning the security flaws surrounding a Covid-19 contact tracing app that was mandated for citizens of Qatar.

  3. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    The ACLU is a New York City-based non-profit organization that was founded in 1920.

    According to the organization’s website, its mission statement is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

    The ACLU is officially nonpartisan and provides legal assistance to individuals facing all types of cases that they feel involves civil rights.

    However, the organization is best known for its activities in legal cases concerning:

    • Same-sex marriage

    • Reproductive rights

    • Discrimination against women

    • Minority populations

    • Decarceration in the United States

    • Rights of prisoners

    • Separation of church and state

    • Death penalty

    As of early 2021, the ACLU has over 1,200,000 members and an annual budget of $300 million. The majority of their budget comes from a combination of grants and donations from their members.

    The organization provides direct legal representation, as well as funding or preparation of amicus curiae briefs when an individual or group already has legal representation through another firm.

    One of the most notable recent trials in which the ACLU was involved was Collins v. the United States, during which the organization reached a settlement with the federal government to compensate service members discharged under the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

  4. Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

    The HRC is the largest political lobbying and LGBTQ advocacy organization in the United States.

    Formed in 1980 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization’s self-described main objectives are to:

    • Advocate for same-sex marriage

    • Expand hate crimes legislation

    • Protect LGBTQ rights

    • Advocate AIDS/HIV

    The HRC seeks to achieve these goals mainly by providing supporting resources to LGBTQ individuals and lobbying legislative initiatives.

    The official logo of the organization consists of an equals sign imposed onto a solid background, representing support for same-sex marriage. The logo went viral on social media in 2013, with millions of supporters around the world posting the image to signal solidarity.

    In the 1980s, the HRC focused on responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Some of their more recent activities have included:

    • Lobbying to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

    • Providing resources for coming out to family members.

    • Providing education regarding LGBT-related healthcare.

    • Raising awareness concerning workplace issues faced by LGBT professionals.

  5. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO).

    The IGLYO is an international organization that was founded in 1984 to connect and foster cooperation between local, regional, and national LGBTQI student and youth organizations.

    The organization has since grown to include over 95 different member organizations across 45 countries around the world.

    Its main objective is to advocate on behalf of its member organizations to international institutions, bodies, and other organizations for matters concerning LGBTQI youth.

    The IGLYO’s self-described strategic objectives are to:

    • Make education inclusive and safe for all

    • Build young activists

    • Develop and sustain a connected and engaged network of member organizations

    • Highlight the diversity of LGBTQI youth identities

    Some of their specific activities and offered resources include:

    • Study sessions. IGLYO offers a five-day educational program each year through the Council of Europe Youth Centres to teach a variety of current topics. The methodology typically involves peer discussion, group work, and learning through experience.

    • Activist Academy. Another annual five-day event that encourages young individuals interested in LGBTQI issues to become activists.

    • Online Capacity Buildings. IGLYO offers online workshops for people who want to participate in their other programs but can’t attend physically.

  6. GLAAD.

    GLAAD is a New York City-based non-governmental media monitoring organization that focuses on highlighting discriminatory coverage of LGBT individuals.

    The organization was originally named the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, but has since dropped the name in favor of its acronym to reflect their work more accurately.

    GLAAD hosts several programs, including:

    • GLAAD Media Awards. GLAAD bestows this award to media organizations that display positive or accurate representations of LGBT individuals and issues present in their lives.

    • Announcing Equality Project. A collection of over 1,000 newspapers that include announcements concerning LGBT-related issues and events.

    • Studio Responsibility Index. The Studio Responsibility Index is an index updated each year to record “the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by six major motion studios.”

    • GLAAD Media Reference Group. A style guide that offers recommendations to writers concerning how to create positive, inclusive depictions of LGBT individuals.

  7. Rainbow Round Table (RRT).

    Rainbow Round Table is a segment of the American Library Association (ALA) devoted to meeting the informational needs of LGBTQ individuals.

    RRT was founded in 1970, making it the United State’s first LGBT professional organization. It was originally called the Task Force on Gay Liberation and has adopted many other monikers throughout its existence.

    The group’s first major initiative was to convince the Library of Congress to reclassify library materials relating to LGBT issues.

    HQ 71 of the Library of Congress was originally labeled “Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes,” but due to pressure from RRT was eventually changed to the new scheme of HQ 76.5 “Homosexuality, Lesbianism — Gay Liberation Movement, Homophile Movement.”

    Some of RRT’s other major endeavors include:

    • Rainbow Book Month. Each June, RRT celebrates Rainbow Book Month to recognize and celebrate the stories and works of LGBTQ authors.

    • Stonewall Book Award. Established in 1971, this award recognizes exceptional novels that highlight topics relating to LGBTQ issues.

  8. Modern Military Association of America (MMAA).

    MMAA is a non-profit organization founded in 2019 through the merger of OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association.

    The non-partisan group is currently the United States’ largest non-profit dedicated to advancing equality and fairness for LGBTQ veterans and members of the military.

    As of early 2021, MMAA has over 85,000 members and supporters, 10 active programs, and 4 ongoing high-profile lawsuits fighting discrimination.

    The organization lists education, advocacy, and support as its three main tools for pursuing its mission.

    More specifically, some services MMAA offers include:

    • Assisting members with discharge upgrades, discrimination cases, and legal name changes.

    • Equipping veteran and military service providers with the skills to efficiently service LGBTQ individuals.

    • Sponsoring military spouses to help them obtain higher education.

  9. American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER).

    Founded in 1990, AVER is the United States’ oldest veterans service organization (VSO) devoted to LGBT rights.

    The non-profit organization is chapter-based, allowing for local chapters to create many of their own rules and organize their activities.

    One notable example is the Chicago chapter of AVER, which sponsors annual tributes to LGBT veterans.

    The Chicago chapter was also responsible for creating the Lexington Declaration, which called on then-president Bill Clinton to lift the ban against homosexuals openly serving in the United States military.

    The group was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2007.

  10. National LGBTQ Task Force.

    Also known simply as The Task Force, the National LGBTQ Task Force is a non-profit advocacy group that focuses on organizing and supporting grassroots LGBTQ-related organizations.

    One of their most famous endeavors is the annual Creating Change conference, which provides skills-building resources to over 2,000 attendees each year.

    The Task Force also operates a think tank called The Task Force Policy Institute, which performs policy analysis, social science research, and strategy development regarding LGBTQ-related rights and issues.

    In 2013, the organization received the Large Nonprofit Organization of the Year during the Pantheon of Leather Awards.

    More recently in 2019, The Task Force announced a joint project in partnership with the Imperial Court System.

    The project saw through the creation of the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the famous Stonewall Inn, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

    The wall of honor serves as a monument commemorating and celebrating “the lives of LGBTQ trailblazers, pioneers, and s/heroes who have passed.”

  11. PFLAG.

    PFLAG is a non-profit national organization dedicated to uniting families, parents, and allies who are LGBTQ+.

    The organization was known as the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays until 2014 when it abandoned the name in favor of just its acronym.

    Headquartered in New York City, PFLAG has over 200,000 members over 400 chapters spread across the United States.

    PFLAG has led many major projects and campaigns since its establishment in 1973, such as:

    • Straight for Equality. Straight for Equality is a national education and outreach program designed to bring more supporters and members into PFLAG.

      The organization originally only included individuals with a family or friend connection with the LGBTQ community. This project was a bid to expand membership to all individuals supporting the cause.

    • Cultivating Respect: Safe Schools For All. PFLAG’s umbrella program support all parents, educators, and adults who work hard to keep schools inclusive and safe for LGBTQ students.

    • Claim Your Rights. Claim Your Rights is a partnership program created between PFLAG and GLSEN.

      The program’s objective is to educate and provide legal assistance to teachers, parents, and administrators wishing to file complaints with the Office for Civil Rights concerning children who have experienced harassment, bullying, or discrimination.

  12. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy (Williams Institute).

    The Williams Institute is a UCLA-based public policy research group focused on topics concerning gender identity and sexual orientation.

    Although this group isn’t a large service provider or advocacy group like many other members on this list, they’re just as important in the advancement of LGBTQ rights.

    The legal research and public policy analysis conducted by such research groups have served as critical references during important court cases and legal battles involving LGBTQ-related issues.

    The Williams Institute also provides LGBT consulting and analysis to the United States Census.

  13. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

    Also known simply as Lambda Legal, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is an American non-profit organization that provides impact litigation, public policy work, and societal education to LGBT communities.

    The fund was established in 1973, during a time when lawyers specializing in LGBT issues were practically nonexistent. Their objective was to meet this need, providing legal assistance in cases relating to gay rights.

    Some of Lambda Legal’s most notable activities over the years include:

    • Participated in the 2003 United States Supreme Court’s case of Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated sodomy laws in the US.

    • Advocated for same-sex marriage through an amicus brief during Dean v. District of Columbia.

    • Published the “Little Black Book,” which advised gay men to be aware of their rights if they were detained or arrested for their activities.

  14. National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

    Headquartered in San Francisco, the NCLR is the only organization in the United States solely dedicated to lesbian legal issues.

    Their main activities involve:

    • Legal assistance. The public interest law firm provides free legal assistance to clients and legal advocates fighting LGBT-related court cases.

    • Community education. The NCLR organizes and sponsors many local events dedicated to spreading awareness and education concerning LGBT issues.

    • Advocacy. The organization constantly advocates on behalf of the LGBT community for more equitable public policies.

    The NCLR served as primary legal counsel in notable cases such as Strauss v. Horton, In re Marriage Cases, and Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.

  15. Immigration Equality.

    Immigration Equality is a nonprofit organization dedicated to representing and advocating for LGBTQ and HIV+ individuals who are navigating the United States immigration system.

    The group provides legal counsel as well as direct funding, especially in cases involving immigrants seeking asylum from countries in which they face LGBT-related persecution.

    In 2017 alone, Immigration Equality provided over $33 million in free legal services and funding. The group wins 99% of its cases.

    The organization also advocates for many public policy changes, notably:

    • Ending the deportation of LGBTQ immigrants.

    • Repealing the one-year filing deadline concerning asylum.

    • Including more LGBTQ individuals in decision-making positions for immigration reform and administrative relief.

    • Recognizing the legal definition of ‘families’ also includes couples without access to marriage equality.

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Chris Kolmar

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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