Archive for the 'Foreign Aid' Category

Deep Currents of Prejudice Against Sexual Minorities in “The Economist”

Fabrice HoudartGuest blog by Fabrice Houdart, The World Bank.

In my opinion, The Economist article Right cause, wrong battle: Why the World Bank’s focus on gay rights is misguided” is guilty of what it is accusing the Bank of: its focus is arbitrary, capricious and misguided. It seems to be motivated by the prejudice that sexual minorities in the developing world are less deserving of development efforts than other minorities.

  • First, it is sensationalist to refer to the “World Bank’s focus on gay rights” to reinforce the claim that the Bank is pushing “Western values. Frankly, it is is quite a journalistic leap when President Kim actually stood up against all discriminations (see Feb. 27th, Washington Post oped).  Additionally, the Economist knows not to use “Gay” when referring to the multitude of sexual identities in the developing world;
  • Secondly, the author should have spoken with the representatives President Kim met last Friday before assuming that the topic was “how best to […] overhaul the bank’s lending policies” when its purpose was to listen for the first time in Bank’s history to sexual minority (see Washington Blade April 15 article on the event). Again this misrepresentation of a long overdue meeting is only intended to strengthen the allegation of a “western gay lobby” effort;
  • The second and third paragraphs omit to mention the crucial links between the Bank’s mission of “tackling extreme poverty” and inclusion. This poverty trap is best described in the 1990 Turk Report: “one might wish to describe impoverishment – i.e., the road from relative poverty to extreme poverty […]- as a succession of passive discriminations, or discriminatory omissions in respect of recognized fundamental rights, and the impossibility of securing justice”. In short, for the World Bank to reach its goal to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, it needs to start raising systematically the difficult topic of discrimination with its clients;
  • The arguments that the focus on Uganda is “capricious” and the focus on “gay rights” is arbitrary are weak. The Economist is not able to point out to any other loan that the World Bank could legitimately have postponed in Nigeria or Ethiopia as it suggests. But more importantly, what seems arbitrary, capricious and misguided is for The Economist to focus on a single sexual minority inclusion effort when the Bank routinely makes similar efforts. In August 2013 as an example, it required Uganda to carry-out a social assessment on the impact on Batwas people (“pygmies”) of a proposed Education project (see IPP656 v3, August 2013). The Economist failed to denounced this “misguided” effort to protect this minority;
  • The argument that “anti-gay laws are [not] the most harmful to the poor” is strange. First of all, the lack of attention to sexual minorities by development organizations has led to such penury of data that nobody can assess the impact of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Secondly, the World Bank has devoted substantial staff and financial resources to address Roma issues, as an example, in the context of its work on poverty and economic development in Eastern Europe. Under The Economist worse discrimination” test, was it also a misuse of resources?
  • As for the “perverse results” of the postponement of the Uganda loan, The Economist did not do its homework. The World Bank has not cancelled but postponed the approval of this additional financing pending an assessment of barriers to quality health services for marginalized populations, interventions and corrective actions needed to overcome those barriers, and due diligence to determination of whether and how the project can achieve its development objectives in the wake of passage of the new legislation. This is far from the drastic cut in its support for the Health Sector in Uganda, The Economist tries to make it appear;
  • Finally, the argument that the World Bank should avoid mentioning the links between inclusion and development in order to remain competitive with Beijing’s conditions free aid is ludicrous. If the Bank was to follow this proposed strategy, it should also eliminate its environmental and social safeguards as well as its procurement rules. Obviously such a “race to the bottom” would be disastrous. But more importantly, the Bank’s strategy is to carve itself out a role in poverty eradication which would make it relevant to developing countries even though their governments might not need its money any more.

In summary, The Economist article reflects nothing more than deep currents of prejudice against sexual minorities even among socially liberal journalists. It also shows how uneducated and ignorant of the global sexual minority plight, Western publications are. It should be read as an encouragement for the Bank to continue its efforts to raise awareness on the disastrous consequences of discrimination against sexual minorities on their development outcomes.

Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Uganda President Museveni’s Signing Of The Anti-Homosexuality Bill

February 25, 2014 - I am deeply concerned by the decision of President Museveni of Uganda to sign into law the anti-homosexuality bill. I support Secretary of State Kerry and others in calling for its immediate repeal. Much of U.S. assistance to Uganda is for the people of Uganda, including those in the Ugandan LGBT community whose human rights are being so tragically violated. But we need to closely review all U.S. assistance to Uganda, including through the World Bank and other multilateral organizations. I cannot support providing further funding to the Government of Uganda until the United States has undergone a review of our relationship.

Senator Leahy D-Vt., President Pro Tempore, Chairman Of The State Department And Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee

What We Need From the Next Head of PEPFAR

President’s Emergency Plan on AIDS ReliefDr. Eric Goosby stepped down from his role as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator this month. As the White House and the State Department consider Dr. Goosby’s replacement, the Council believes there are some qualities that are essential in his successor.

The Council and its member organizations strongly support the President’s Emergency Plan on AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – not only for health policy reasons, but for the broader reflection of fundamental U.S. values that PEPFAR offers. In that respect, we believe it crucial that PEPFAR programs be fully inclusive of most-at-risk populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM). We are grateful that  the Obama Administration has embraced that principle by expanding PEPFAR programming to include MSM – a legacy that, in turn, is elevating the importance of enabling legal environments for MSM prevention and treatment programs.

The nominee for Dr. Goosby’s replacement obviously must reflect experience in, and knowledge of, HIV/AIDS policy. Given the cross-agency nature of our tools to fight HIV/AIDS, however, we believe it critically important that he or she also demonstrate proven abilities to lead a complex and multi-tiered interagency health policy team.

Moreover, the new Coordinator will carry important leadership responsibilities in ensuring the consistency and integrity of PEPFAR programs. This must include clear commitment to meeting the needs of most-at-risk populations, including LGBT individuals, in each country served by PEPFAR. It equally must include persistence in seeking host country understanding of, and shared commitment to, this goal.

The Council remains concerned at indications that some PEPFAR implementers may have inappropriately blurred the distinction between their personal views on homosexuality and their responsibility, as an implementing organization of U.S. policy, not to undercut broad U.S. government policy goals that support both sound HIV/AIDS prevention and LGBT rights. We wish to see a Coordinator who will prioritize the integrity and effectiveness of our programs in this respect, even while respecting First Amendment rights. We, in turn, will join in holding the new Coordinator publicly accountable for effective oversight in investigating and responding to any alleged abuse.

Finally, the person selected as Coordinator has an essential role in communicating to foreign leaders, and indeed to American and foreign publics, the critical importance of PEPFAR’s life-saving programs, and the need for those programs to embrace all populations.

The new Global AIDS Coordinator can anchor a strong legacy not only of humanitarian attention to a critical health challenge, but also to insistence that our global health policies be fully inclusive, in reflection of American values. The Council for Global Equality is hopeful that there will be a speedy announcement of Dr. Goosby’s replacement, and that that announcement will reflect these inclusive values that are critical to the direction in which our PEPFAR programs must go.

Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons Worldwide: A State Department Priority

statedeptlogo-webFact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs
June 28, 2013

“As Secretary, I join with my colleagues at our embassies, consulates and USAID missions around the world in saying no matter where you are and no matter who you love, we stand with you.”
– Secretary of State John Kerry

The U.S. Department of State champions the protection of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals worldwide as an Obama Administration foreign policy priority. By supporting the inherent dignity of each person, the United States leads by example and advances our values.

LGBT Rights a Foreign Policy Cornerstone

Advancing equality for LGBT persons is fundamental to promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world. Inclusive societies are better international partners and better neighbors.

Department Tools

The State Department uses a wide range of diplomatic and assistance tools to press for the elimination of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons worldwide:

  • Countering Laws that Criminalize LGBT Status
    The State Department works through U.S. embassies, civil society, and multilateral agencies to encourage countries to repeal or reform laws that criminalize LGBT status. To guide this effort, the Department created a resource toolkit for all U.S. embassies and established a rapid response mechanism to address emerging crises in particular countries.

Research and Resources for U.S. Embassies
The Department’s annual Human Rights Report includes information on the human rights situation for LGBT persons in every country. Region-specific LGBT strategies have been developed that provide U.S. embassies with analysis, resources, and public outreach strategies for engagement with government officials and civil society.

Embassy Programs and Personal Engagement
In 2012, nearly 90 U.S. missions held Pride-related events. Already in 2013, Ambassadors and embassy staff have participated in Pride marches and IDAHO celebrations around the world and provided safe spaces for LGBT organizations to connect with one another and the broader human rights advocacy community.

The Global Equality Fund

The Department launched the Global Equality Fund (GEF) in December 2011 to advance the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide. In partnership with a number of countries, corporations, and foundations, the GEF has funded emergency and long-term programs to protect the human rights of LGBT persons in over 25 countries. The Fund provides human rights defenders with legal representation, security, and, when necessary, relocation support.

Since 2010, the Department has provided critical assistance to more than 70 LGBT defenders and advocates around the world.

Consular and Travel Assistance

  • The Bureau of Consular Affairs has streamlined procedures and simplified requirements for changing the sex listed on a transgender American’s passport.
  • The Department provides travel information specific to LGBT persons on travel.state.gov, including information about attitudes, harassment, or arrests important for LGBT travelers.

Department Personnel Policy

The State Department announced extension of the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service staff serving abroad.

  • The Department enables same-sex couples to obtain passports under the names recognized by their state through their marriages or civil unions.
  • The Department’s equal employment opportunity policy includes protections against discriminatory treatment of employees and job applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Global Equality Fund Advances Human Rights of LGBT Communities

2013_0619_pride_ukraine-apphotoRepost from DipNote

PRIDE events abound in the month of June, especially here in the nation’s capital.  John Kerry has championed LGBT equality for over 30 years, and now as Secretary he is leading the Department’s global fight to promote the human rights of LGBT individuals across the world.  Today, Secretary Kerry delivered keynote remarks at the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) Pride event at the State Department.  During his speech, the Secretary acknowledged and thanked the governments and organizations that have partnered with the Secretary’s Global Equality Fund.  Launched in December 2011, the Fund represents a unique collaboration bridging governments, companies, foundations, and NGOs with the objective of advancing and protecting the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide.

The Fund currently provides critical emergency and long-term assistance in over 25 countries through small grants, capacity-building, and emergency protection.  Our staff in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world play a strong role in helping to manage the Global Equality Fund, providing assistance and resources to local communities, as well as oversight to ensure grants are implemented appropriately, maximizing the impact of small investments.  For example, the Fund supports regional workshops on legislative advocacy, human rights documentation and monitoring, and other capacity-building activities that strengthen the ability of local organizations to respond to the anti-LGBT legislation recently introduced in a number of eastern European countries. Continue Reading

USAID-supported gay training to take place in Colombia

El Capitolio Nacional Bogota ColombiaRepost from the Washington Balde

The first training as part of a USAID-backed public-private partnership designed to promote LGBT rights around the world will take place in the Colombian capital from May 30-June 2.

Advocates from across Colombia are expected to attend the Bogotá training that is designed to teach participants how to become involved in the country’s political process. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will conduct the four-day seminar with Colombia Diversa, a nationwide LGBT advocacy group, as part of the LGBT Global Development Partnership that will contribute $11 million over the next four years to activist groups in neighboring Ecuador and other developing countries.

Colombia Diversa Executive Director Marcela Sánchez on Thursday will also moderate a panel on the role out public officials play in the advancement of LGBT rights in Colombia and the United States. Bogotá City Council member Angélica Lozano; Tatiana Piñeros, a transgender woman whom Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro appointed last year to run the Colombian capital’s social welfare agency; Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute President Chuck Wolfe and Francisco Herrero, director of the Democratic National Institute, a group that encourages underrepresented groups to become involved in the South American country’s political process, are scheduled to take part. Continue reading.

Reception Honoring the Department of State’s Public/Private Partnerships

Michel-Togue

Michel Togue, Cameroon

Today the U.S. State Department hosted a reception highlighting the the Department’s public/ priviate partnerships. Secretary Clinton spoke to a range of partnerships that the State Department has implemented with the goal of spurring more collaboration among government, civil society, the private sector, universities, religious institutions, and other groups. The creation in 2011 of the Global Equality Fund is one of those important partnerships. The fund was created, as noted on the State Department’s website, to support programs that “advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world. The Fund is a collaborative effort at the State Department, bridging multiple offices with the objective of empowering LGBT persons to live freely and without discrimination.”

In today’s speech Secretary Clinton welcomed three new governmental partnerships to the fund and highlighted one example of the work the fund has supported. She noted, “We’re also expanding on some of our successful partnerships. In 2011, I launched the Global Equality Fund to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons around the world. And I want to welcome the Governments of Norway, the Netherlands, and France to this partnership. And I thank the Arcus Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund for their recent contributions. Also with us is Michel Togue, a human rights lawyer from Cameroon who has fought tirelessly to defend LGBT persons with support from this fund, and we greatly applaud his commitment and his courage.”

You can learn more about the fund and its program areas here

You can watch the full video from today’s event here.

“Discrimination hampers development” – Commissioner Piebalgs launches a new initiative to fight discrimination in developing countries

European CommissionPress Release from the European Commission

Brussels, 01 June 2012 - EU Commissioner Piebalgs today unveiled the launch of a new €20 million package to help fight against any kind of discrimination – whether based on gender or sexual orientation, religion or belief, race or ethnic origin, or disability – which affects millions of people around the world.

The announcement was made during an event at the European Commission. High level speakers exchanged views on how to move ahead towards tolerant democracies as well as the added value of non-discrimination and the promotion of human rights to unlock sources of development and enable inclusive growth.

The EU announced that this new package will be available for NGOs and civil society groups to tackle incidences of any kind of discrimination on the ground. Continue Reading

Persecution of all, not selected, groups should be condemned

Michael Guest, The Council for Global EqualityRepost from the Charlotte Observer

From Michael Guest, a former Bush Administration ambassador who advises the Council for Global Equality, a coalition of human rights and LGBT advocacy groups.

Rev. Franklin Graham has suggested publicly a cut off of U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt, in response to the latter’s persecution of Christians.

And so, in light of the State Department’s latest human rights reports, how does Rev. Graham feel about providing assistance to Panama, Cameroon, El Salvador and other countries where officials were implicated last year of unlawfully harassing, detaining, or brutalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens?

State’s annual human rights report to Congress, released May 24, is widely regarded as the most comprehensive assessment available of human rights abuse abroad. The report is worth taking in.

In Jamaica, police were implicated in 12 cases of assault or other abuse directed at LGBT people. In South Africa, an average of 10 cases per week was reported of lesbians being subjected to “corrective rape,” generally without police response.

In Nigeria, local authorities failed to act against those responsible for stoning and beating members of an LGBT-affirming Christian church. Authorities in China, Russia, the Dominican Republic and Moldova denied freedom of assembly to LGBT citizens and groups. And in dozens of countries, gay and transgender people were denied employment or basic social services, including health, housing and education – only because of who they are.

Rev. Graham is right to be concerned about abuses directed at Egypt’s Coptic Christians. I stand at his side in expressing outrage, both at what this minority has suffered and at the Egyptian Government’s failure, more broadly, to protect minority rights.

But human rights are, if anything, a matter of principle. They are as universal as God’s love. And if all are created in God’s image, every person deserves respect. Continue reading ‘Persecution of all, not selected, groups should be condemned’

Scope of Interagency Influence and Authority

The Council for Global Equality - Scope of Interagency Influence and AuthorityOver the past three days, we’ve laid out a number of key issues to be grappled with as the U.S. government meshes its foreign assistance programs with the goals laid out in the President’s December 6 memorandum and in Secretary Clinton’s speech the same day. These issues will require more than energy and thought: they will require clear and determined support from department and agency leaders, which we trust will be given.

As referenced earlier, USAID’s development assistance programs represent, in fact, only part of a larger set of assistance programs scattered across the U.S. government. The President’s memorandum references a baker’s dozen agencies that have such programs. Apart from USAID, two of our largest assistance programs were established under the Bush Administration: the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, was established as a government corporation under the direction of a public/private board; PEPFAR, which operates under the Secretary of State’s oversight, oversees our international HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. Smaller grass-roots development assistance programs are managed by the Inter-American Foundation and the African Development Foundation. Even the Pentagon carries discretionary funding that can buttress our overseas development assistance efforts. Continue reading ‘Scope of Interagency Influence and Authority’


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