USAID has officially created a public-private partnership in order to promote LGBT rights, or the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community. This partnership was announced earlier this month. USAID plans a partnership with various LGBT rights groups across the globe, included but not limited to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, and the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency. These companies will be contributing $11 million to advocacy groups in developing countries such as Ecuador, Honduras, and Guatemala over the next four years.
The goal of USAID’s new partnerships is to promote LGBT rights through multiple avenues. A portion of the donation of these groups will be going towards local LGBT rights organizations in order to expand their capacities, and to hopefully engage people in various developing countries. The promoted groups will educate locals on the impact of sexual orientation discrimination, as well as education on gender identity, expression, and their individual country’s political processes in able to promote LGBT rights politically.
Claire Lucas, who is the senior advisor of the USAID Office of Innovation and Development Alliances, commented that the partnership will increase respect for the LGBT community worldwide, and it will solidify the idea that LGBT groups need access human rights that all people are deserved. Lucas is confident that the partnership will further LGBT human rights in the upcoming years. Anne-Charlotte Malm, who is part of the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency, agrees with Lucas. She said that everyone in the partnership had a common vision of giving equal rights, and freedom from discrimination, to those in the LGBT community, regardless of anything to do with gender (expression or identity, for instance).
As of today, the world has a harsh view on homosexuality. Over 80 countries criminalize homosexuality, seven of which include the death penalty for same-sex sexual relations. Right now, only 19 countries have anti-transgender discrimination – only a dozen countries allow same-sex marriage. There is a much ground to cover for advancement of LGBT rights, but it is a battle that USAID wishes to take on with this new partnership with various LGBT organizations.
Hillary Clinton stated, in 2011: “Gay rights are human rights.” This is the message that USAID wants to get across, particularly in developing countries. Everyone is human, despite their sexual orientation, and should be treated with respect and dignity.
The partnership will also promote LGBT rights by helping LGBT individuals participate in emerging markets in developing countries. Another important factor that USAID wishes to include in the local LGBT civil society organizations is the undertaking of research that would study the economic impact of LGBT discrimination. Certainly, there is a negative impact on LGBT individuals in a social sense due to discrimination, but there is also economic discrimination. If LGBT discrimination ends worldwide, poverty can be further reduced for not only their communities, but other persecuted minority groups.
– Corina Balsamo