USAID announces LGBT Global Development Partnership

$11 million, four-year initiative to further LGBT equality worldwide

By Cathy Kristofferson, April 08, 2013

USAID LGBT Foam Board_0Following the United Nations’ historic resolution endorsing LGBT human rights in 2011, President Obama issued a mandate to all agencies involved with foreign aid and development to “enhance their ongoing efforts with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.”

Today in Washington D.C., the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced their response to Obama’s mandate: The LGBT Global Development Partnership.  The partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute (GLVI), the Williams Institute, and Olivia Companies will further LGBT equality in developing and emerging countries.

LGBT rights at the UN
LGBT rights at the UN

The United Nations reports that there are 76 countries worldwide where homosexuality is illegal.  54 of the countries where it is ‘illegal to be gay’ can be blamed on leftover  British colonial penal codes.  Some of these countries, like Uganda and Nigeria where homosexuality is already illegal, have legislative measures underway, or already passed, to further penalize the gay community. 7 of the countries currently impose the death penalty, with Uganda’s Kill-the-Gays-Bill posed to make that country the 8th.

The Partnership will work with on-the-ground LGBT and human rights defenders in these countries to meet its goals of furthering LGBT equality worldwide.

USAID Press Release:

USAID ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP TO PROMOTE LGBT HUMAN RIGHTS ABROAD

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new LGBT Global Development Partnership, a public-private partnership between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute (GLVI), the Williams Institute, and Olivia Companies, which further promotes foreign assistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in emerging markets and developing countries.

Starting its work in Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, and expanding to even more countries, the partnership will strengthen the capacity of LGBT civil society organizations, train LGBT individuals to participate more fully in democratic processes, and undertake research on the economic impact of discrimination against LGBT individuals.

“This partnership leverages the financial resources and skills of each partner to further inclusive development and increase respect for the human rights of LGBT people around the world,” said Claire Lucas, Senior Advisor for Public-Private Partnerships in the Office of Innovation and Development Alliances at USAID. “It can be a real game-changer in the advancement of the LGBT human rights.”

“We are thrilled to bring our 35 years’ expertise and leadership to this unprecedented partnership,” said J. Bob Alotta, Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. “Together, with each of the partners, we will collectively address some of the most critical human rights issues faced by our communities.”

Around the world, eighty-five countries and territories criminalize LGBT behavior and seven countries have a death penalty for same-sex sexual activity. Fewer than 50 countries punish anti-gay discrimination in full or in part. In addition, on  December 6, 2011, President Obama issued a Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons which directed “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.” The LGBT Global Development Partnership represents a response to this directive and a continuation of USAID’s long tradition of equality and human rights for all.

“Our aim is to unleash the potential of hundreds of millions of people globally who are LGBT to have the freedom and dignity to contribute fully to their families, communities and nations,” said Maura O’Neill, USAID’s Chief Innovation Officer.


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