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James Harrison - Human Rights Researcher

(Lead Researcher -'Out in Morocco')

Case study


When did you first start at ReportOUT?

16th July, 2020

Current Role?

Human Rights Researcher (Lead Researcher, Out in Morocco)

Please Describe Your Role at ReportOUT?

Having previously conducted ReportOUT's International Volunteering Scheme (IVS) internal review and feasibility study, and subsequently worked on the Sub-Saharan Africa chapters for the book, I'm now taking up a leadership role on the Out in Morocco project, responsible for relations with the partners and coordinating the central research efforts for the project.

What is your background?

I'm a current final-year undergraduate studying Politics at Durham University, with further study in international affairs, anthropology, and German; having received a Laidlaw Scholarship in Research and Leadership throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree, I wanted to take my limited research experience and apply it to something with real-world applications.

What other hobbies and interests do you have?

Reading, writing, films, running.

What Impact has your role had on the charity?

To support research efforts and hopefully find ways and forms of making that research the most impactful it can be from a policy perspective.

What is one thing you aim to achieve for the charity this year?

As an aspirational goal, I would like to see the Morocco research take the form, beyond the formal research report, of a stakeholder report which can be submitted to the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review cycle for Morocco in 2022; this would represent a major step forward onto the global policy stage for ReportOUT.

List one personal achievement you want to accomplish as a result of being part of the charity.

I'm really keen to get my first serious published piece of work as an adult, either as part of the book or in the Morocco report.

Have there been any notable moments in your life that have led you to working at and supporting the charity?

I think most profound in this respect was a debate I had with my then-boyfriend about the need to continue specific provisions for LGBT+ people (support groups, human rights activism, etc.) in modern-day society: to him, the world (or at least Britain) had resolved its homophobia and transphobia, both conscious and unconscious, and we should consider the issue of disadvantage on the basis of SOGIESC closed.

What struck me about this was the awareness that, as much as life in the UK is still extremely difficult for many young LGBT+ people, many young people in the community (especially those who are white, middle-class, well-educated, urban, etc.) have grown up in an environment which is overwhelmingly accepting of LGBT+ people and have rarely experienced discrimination or disadvantage on the basis of their SOGIESC status (this includes myself), and as a result can believe that the same is true of everywhere and everyone.

One reason I'm invested in my work with ReportOUT is my firm belief that these perspectives need to be challenged, and that the most privileged segments of the LGBT+ community should be constantly made aware of the discrimination and violence which some LGBT+ people face in their everyday lives. To me, it's a privilege and a luxury to be able to do the kind of work we do at ReportOUT without fear of personal or organisational reprisals or, indeed, legal harassment, and it's even more of a privilege to hopefully be able to make a difference in the lives of those who face greater difficulties.

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