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U.S. Agency for International Development Releases its LGBT Vision for Action

USAID“This Vision outlines our Agency’s commitment—both in Washington and abroad—to include LGBT considerations in every area of our work, and in every place we work.” – Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID

This past May, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released its LGBT Vision for Action, a first of its kind U.S. Government policy document designed to demonstrate the Agency’s commitment to LGBT inclusion. The Vision provides a set of overarching core principles for engagement and further socializes LGBT inclusion throughout the Agency. USAID’s vision is a “world in which the human rights of LGBT persons are respected and free from discrimination, persecution, and violence—because all people should have access to basic education, health, and sustainable livelihoods.”

Learn more about USAID’s LGBT Vision for Action, its LGBT inclusive development work, and updated fact sheet on the Agency’s LGBT programs and policies.

Advancing the Human Rights of LGBT Persons in Partnership With the Private Sector

Assistant Secretary Malinowski

Assistant Secretary Malinowski Addresses Global Equality Fund

Reblog from DipNote, written by Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski

Last week during a reception held in the Treaty Room of the Department of State, I was proud to address a group of America’s leading corporations and encourage them to take steps to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world.

In the 21st century, promoting universal human rights and non-discrimination can’t be the job of governments alone.  We need our business leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs to lend their ideas, energy, and support.

Why? Advancing LGBT human rights isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.  Corporations want to invest in countries that respect the rule of law and provide protections for their employees.  They want to promote policies and work in environments that allow them to recruit the best and brightest and where their employees can bring their best to work every day.  Laws that discriminate against LGBT persons and the businesses that support and employ them — like the laws recently passed in Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia — threaten the stability that businesses desire and risk the safety of their employees, and jeopardize productive economic relationships that can advance corporate interests around the world. Continue Reading

Council for Global Equality Co-Sponsoring Two Films at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival

San Francisco International LGBT Film FestivalThe Council for Global Equality is proud to be a Frameline Community Sponsor for the 38th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival  taking place in San Francisco from June 19 through June 29. We are co-sponsoring two films, along with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), both with a Russia focus, Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda and Pussy vs. Putin. Follow the links for each film to learn more, get show times, and buy tickets.

Following the film screening of Campaign of Hate (June 22), Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council, will be participate in a panel discussion with the film’s co-director Michael Lucas.

Both films are a great primer into the complex world of human rights in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. We hope to see you there! If you aren’t in San Francisco please share with people you know who are.

 

 

More than 170 International Groups Demand Protection of LGBT Free Expression 

More than 170 international groups demand protection of LGBT free expression

On International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) over 170 organizations from all over the world (including The Council for Global Equality) call on states to protect LGBT freedom of expression and end violence against LGBT individuals and communities.

“Over recent years, we’ve seen a clampdown on LGBT expression in many countries, with repressive legislation being introduced and a culture of violence and intimidation limiting the diversity of LGBT voices in the media,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19

“This IDAHOT, hundreds of free expression, human rights, and LGBT groups have joined together to demand that all states protect LGBT expression. Free expression is a fundamental human right and can never be restricted on the basis of sexual or gender identity,” added Hughes.

The Global Call was a joint initiative by ARTICLE 19, Amnesty International, IDAHO Committee and IFEX and is part of a program of work ARTICLE 19 has been involved in to protect LGBT free expression internationally.

  • Read the Global Call and see the wide range of organizations demanding LGBT free expression.
  • Follow #IDAHOTSpeakUp and #NoSilence to join the discussion about LGBT free speech online.
  • Join ARTICLE 19’s social media Thunderclap right now to add your support before IDAHOT on Sat 17 May!
  • Read a joint statement by UN experts to mark IDAHOT 2014

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

This week we join with the worldwide LGBT community in celebrating IDAHOT – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Celebrated on May 17 – the 1990 date when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases – IDAHO is a call to conscience that the rights of LGBT people around the world remain under attack. For many LGBT communities worldwide, celebrating Gay Pride isn’t an option, or comes with great risk to personal safety and security. Being openly LGBT, in fact, can be an invitation to harassment and abuse, and even death. Here in the U.S., IDAHO can bring back the awareness that sexual orientation and gender identity are not only to be celebrated, but also require us to defend our rights. We can use IDAHO to redouble our commitment to ensure respect, fairness, and equality for LGBT people every where.

Resources:

Visit Day Against Homophobia for a list of events by country

Joint Statement by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski and Finnish Ambassador to the United States Ritva Koukku-Rondeon the Occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Secretary of State, John F. Kerry’s Statement “Commemorating International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Joint Statement by UN human rights experts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Visit Human Rights Watch “African Voices Celebrate LGBT Equality” webpage.

Join ORAM’s Thunderclap campaign for IDAHOT 2014

Read HRC’s Op-Ed “Equality at Home and Abroad and the inaugural issue of “Equality Rising

Statement from Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, on the Passage of the HIV Prevention and Control Act by the Ugandan Parliament

From The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

I am deeply concerned by yesterday’s passage of the HIV Prevention and Control Act by the Ugandan Parliament. From all reports, among the legislation’s most troubling provisions is the criminalization of “attempted transmission of HIV” and “intentional transmission of HIV” with penalties of up to ten years imprisonment. In addition, the bill makes HIV testing mandatory for pregnant women, their partners, and in cases of rape and allows for disclosure of a person’s HIV status under a court order without consent.

Over the past 30 years, we have witnessed time and again how stigma, discrimination, and fear – and the misguided policies that stem from them – further fuel the epidemic by deterring those most in need from accessing lifesaving HIV prevention, treatment, and care services. We have also learned from experience that creating programs that respect and uphold the dignity of every human being and provide care to all who need it not only increases the numbers of people who access HIV services but also decreases the numbers of new HIV infection. The cause and effect are clear.

We are at a critical juncture in the fight against HIV/AIDS. After three decades of hard won progress against the disease the dream of an AIDS-free generation is within our grasp. The good news is that we know what works. We have developed and implemented effective HIV prevention programs and are providing lifesaving treatment to millions of people in Uganda and around the world. The bad news is that a return to antiquated, discriminatory, and non-science based approaches to preventing and controlling the epidemic will quickly erode all the hard won gains we have made.

Ironically, Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to break the silence on HIV/AIDS. The leadership of President Museveni, the Ugandan Parliament, and the extraordinary community response across the country was the exemplar of best public health practice. These efforts were also grounded in compassion, social justice, and access for all. The HIV bill passed yesterday, alongside the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act, threaten to undermine that legacy of leadership and drive an already expanding epidemic in the country.

I join with the many health practitioners, HIV/AIDS and human rights activists, multilateral institutions, and individuals everywhere – in Uganda and around the world – in calling for the people and the Government of Uganda to reject this regressive bill. Sound public health, an effective HIV/AIDS response, and the protection of fundamental human rights demand it – and the lives of millions of Ugandans are at stake.

The World Bank: Why It Should Consider Gay Rights

The Council for Global Equality participated in the set of meetings referenced in the article below. The Council also helped bring LGBT human rights activists to Washington DC to attend the week long set of meetings.

Repost from The Economist

THE ECONOMIST ran an editorial recently arguing that “the World Bank’s focus on gay rights is misguided” (“Right cause, wrong battle“, April 12th). We received a lot of letters on the subject, some of which appear in this week’s issue. The following letter is from some of the gay activists who attended the meeting to discuss gay rights with Jim Kim, the World Bank’s president:

SIR – On behalf of the LGBT activists that were at the World Bank spring meeting and who had the opportunity to engage with the president of the bank, Jim Kim, we would like to respond to your leader arguing that Mr Kim’s attempts to address discrimination against gays in Uganda and elsewhere will hurt the bank’s objectives regarding development. You argued against the World Bank’s involvement in “gay rights”, and perpetuated several misconceptions, inaccurately describing the courageous activists that met Mr Kim, and oversimplified their campaign for more effective safeguard policies.

You criticised the bank’s postponement of a loan to Uganda in response to the government’s passage of its Anti-Homosexuality Act, and asserted that the bank was prioritising “gay rights” over poverty alleviation. Although you attempted to downplay the importance of addressing discrimination in Uganda by citing the pervasive discrimination found against women and others around the world, it is precisely this prevalence of discrimination that makes this problem too big to ignore.

In fact, the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) activists you referred to have asked the bank to address both gender and SOGI together in its efforts on discrimination. These communities face similar structural discrimination and marginalisation that lead to the inability to escape the poverty cycle. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that discrimination can lead to extreme poverty. In India, estimated costs of homophobia could be near 2% of GDP. The bank simply cannot afford to ignore discrimination if it hopes to achieve its goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

You also quoted the bank’s Articles of Agreement, which outline its purpose as an institution focused solely on “economic considerations” and “not a place for political advocacy.” Limiting the bank’s mission to what is written in the Articles, however, would mean that it should still be focused on rebuilding Europe after the second world war. Neither “poverty” nor “shared prosperity”—both goals the bank has adopted over the past two decades—appear in the Articles. The institution has evolved since they were first drafted. The past 70 years have provided a wealth of research and lessons learned that demonstrate the links between poverty and discrimination.

The World Bank has already adopted several social and environmental safeguard polices that “condition” its funds on certain procedures that both it and borrowers must follow. They require due diligence and action plans when a country anticipates having to resettle people for a project, or when indigenous peoples might be affected. These policies have been replicated at nearly all development institutions, and although not perfect, are essential in preventing harm and providing opportunities for affected communities to engage in the development process and share in its benefits.

You think that the safeguards should be eliminated in order to be a more attractive lender. Such a race to the bottom would, however, be counterproductive, and would ultimately undermine the World Bank’s efforts at poverty reduction. Instead it must work in countries to ensure safeguards are effective and responsive to the needs of marginalised communities.

For the first time, the bank is undertaking a comprehensive review of all of its social and environmental safeguard policies. Despite its efforts in recent years to “mainstream gender” in its work, the World Bank has never adopted a mandatory policy on how to ensure its projects and programmes are gender inclusive and avoid exacerbating inequalities that lead to poverty. Furthermore, it has entirely overlooked the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities in its broader agenda.

The Uganda loan demonstrates that the bank currently has no way to ensure its projects avoid inequalities on the ground or contribute to possible human-rights violations on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Rather than being cancelled, the loan has been put on hold to allow the bank time to research the effects that the loan would have on SOGI communities. To make this research systematic prior to this stage in loan disbursement, the World Bank must adopt a safeguard policy on gender and SOGI that would prevent exclusion and recognise these individuals as important stakeholders in its work.

Despite your implication, the activists who visited Washington are not asking the bank to divest from countries like Uganda. Rather they are asking it to go into complex, discriminatory societies with their eyes open and to anticipate the risks before further marginalising vulnerable communities.

We continue to believe that the World Bank should do everything in its power to ensure that its investments are not creating or exacerbating existing inequalities, that it uses its power and influence to encourage its clients to ensure equitable distribution of economic growth benefits, and that the institution itself respects the rights of individuals, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Andrea Quesada
Bisi Alimi
Hasan Abdessamad
Mirosława Makuchowska
Xiaogang Wei


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