Photo series captures LGBT activists from around the world

A new photography exhibition has captured the faces of LGBT+ activists from all over the world in celebration of Pride. 

Queer Commonwealth: Faces of the LGBT+ Movement features 33 activists from Tonga to Pakistan.

Currently, over 70 countries across the world, and 36 out of 52 Commonwealth member states, still criminalise consensual same-sex activity.

Commissioned by LGBT+ rights organisation Kaleidoscope Trust, the event seeks to use photography to educate the public and show the importance of diversity in the world of activism. 

“I’ve always wanted my work to represent a positive change in the world,” said photographer Eivind Hansen.

“Photographing people within the LGBT+ spectrum has become something that’s very important to me. I hope the photos can create more visibility around LGBT+ people and their struggle for equality in the countries they come from.” 

The exhibition includes 33 portraits of members of the Commonwealth Equality Network and an exhibition guide with words from the featured activists. 

Philippa Drew, featured in the exhibit, is a volunteer for the Kaleidoscope Trust and former Director of Global Issues at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Philippa Drew (Queer Commonwealth: The Faces of the LGBT Movement/Eivind Hansen)

“I became an activist because I hated the way LGBT+ people were treated in the UK for most of my lifetime and I wanted to support others to change their situation,” she said.

“I want all LGBT+ people to be free and equal throughout the world.”

Joleen Mataele, an LGBT+ activist from Tonga and co-founder of The Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network, a trans-fronted advocacy group, also has her portrait in the exhibit. 

Joleen Mataele (Queer Commonwealth: The Faces of the LGBT Movement/Eivind Hansen)

“I live as a woman. I do everything as a woman. It is very powerful to tell your story without concealment. The true spirit of love is not being judgmental. Love is to love you,” she said.

Qasim Iqbal, another featured activist, is part of the Naz Male Health Alliance, the only LGBT+ community organisation in Pakistan. 

Qasim Iqbal (Queer Commonwealth: The Faces of the LGBT Movement/Eivind Hansen)

“As a young boy I was bullied. I learned to be strong, but to this day I see many of my childhood friends who struggle with maintaining a stable self esteem because of the bullying they faced,” he said.

“Seeing their struggle made me realise that I had to stand up for justice and for humanity in a country where even the government is a bully.”

Organised by The Commonwealth Equality Network, a network of organisations working to challenge LGBTI+ inequalities in Commonwealth communities, Queer Commonwealth: Faces of the LGBT+ Movement runs until July 6 at Australia House, Strand in London.