Posts Tagged 'USAID'

30 Colombian LGBT activists attend training

Wilson Castañeda, Caribe Afirmativo. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Wilson Castañeda, Caribe Afirmativo. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Repost from The Washington Blade

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Roughly 30 activists from across Colombia attended a four-day training in the Colombian capital from May 30-June 2 designed to encourage LGBT people to become more involved in the country’s political process.

The program, which was coordinated by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, was the first to take place as part of the USAID-backed LGBT Global Development Partnership that will contribute $11 million over the next four years to advocacy groups in neighboring Ecuador and other developing countries. Continue Reading

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’

Conditionality in U.S. Foreign Assistance

The Council for Global Equality - Conditionality in U.S. Foreign AssistanceLGBT hate crimes and other abuses are a clear concern in a number of countries.  Our developmental assistance policy-makers inevitably will confront the question of whether – and if so, how – foreign assistance might appropriately be conditioned in response to these and other LGBT human rights policy concerns.  The human rights and developmental assistance communities are divided internally on that point; we will not resolve those divisions today.

It seems to us that all foreign policy decisions, including with respect to foreign assistance, ultimately must reflect our own country’s principles and values – and these include the manner in which a country’s citizens are treated fairly, with equal rights, obligations, and opportunities.  It also seems to us that, except, perhaps, in emergency response, the decisions we take must encourage the kind of global community that shares our principles and values:  otherwise, those individual decisions have little import or reason.

With that in mind, the question of whether foreign aid should be conditioned on a country’s acceptance of LGBT fairness principles logically might come into play at any of three decision points. Continue reading ‘Conditionality in U.S. Foreign Assistance’

USAID ‘strongly encourages’ contractors to prohibit LGBT job bias

Repost from Washington Blade

New policy implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development “strongly encourages” businesses contracting with the organization to have non-discrimination policies in place for their LGBT workers.

The new policy, spelled out in an executive message dated Oct. 11, encourages companies contracting with USAID to go beyond mandatory non-discrimination protections — including protections based on race, religion and gender — and put in place additional policies to prohibit job bias against LGBT employees and other workers.

According to the memo, the agency is making the change to “encourage all USAID contractors and recipients, including those performing solely overseas, to apply comprehensive nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, and any other conduct that does not affect performance.”

The memo notes that the change isn’t mandatory, so contractors aren’t bound to have the policies to continue working with USAID. Still, the policy is likely the first from any U.S. agency encouraging federal contractors to have non-discrimination policies for LGBT workers.

LGBT advocates said the memo is an important step in addressing workplace discrimination, but noted the change doesn’t have a lot of teeth. Continue Reading

USAID to designate coordinator for LGBT issues overseas

Repost from the Washington Blade

A top official with the U.S. Agency for International Development announced on Monday a senior coordinator would soon be named to guide the administrative division on LGBT issues overseas.

Donald Steinberg, USAID’s deputy administrator, unveiled plans to create the new position during a panel discussion in which officials discussed ways the State Department was integrating LGBT concerns abroad as part of U.S. foreign policy.

“In order to highlight these concerns, we’re pleased to announce that USAID will shortly name a senior coordinator for sexual orientation and gender identity who will be responsible for advising the USAID administrator on this agenda,” Steinberg said.

USAID is an agency under the State Department charged with fostering the growth of developing countries as well as supporting U.S. foreign policy objectives by promoting global health and democracy abroad. Continue reading at the Washington Blade

Watch Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Event Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

LGBT Pride Celebration Event at U.S. State Department

Watch the full event including welcome statements from GLIFAA board president Bob Gilchrist, a speech from USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, an introduction from the Secretary’s of State Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Secretary Hilary Clinton’s remarks, a speech from Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz, as well as a panel discussion including Dan Baer of Department of Human Rights and Labor (U.S. Dept of State) Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality.

The Council for Global Equality releases a study on the impact of PEPFAR on LGBT communities

CFGE and CAP Pepfar ReportThe President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has saved many lives and profoundly shaped the global response to HIV. But like the proverbial Trojan Horse, it has been let into the gates with a belly full of hidden contradictions—insufficient attention to marginalized communities, earmarks for unscientific programming, and forced “pledges” that both undermine sound reproductive rights programming and challenge basic rights to freedom of expression.

In this report, Washington insider Scott Evertz takes a serious look at the politics of one of our country’s signature foreign assistance programs. Scott is the former director of President George W. Bush’s Office of National AIDS Policy and an openly gay Republican, and his analysis reflects a degree of experience and honesty that is too often obscured by the rigid ideology and partisan policymaking that have—up until now—been the cornerstones of PEPFAR and the Bush administration’s bilateral funding strategy.

Read the complete report here.

How Ideology Trumped Science: Why PEPFAR has Failed to Meet its Potential

Next week, the Center for American Progress will publish a scathing critique of how PEPFAR – the Bush Administration’s signature initiative to combat the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS in Africa – ignored by design the HIV prevention needs of LGBT communities.

“How Ideology Trumped Science: Why PEPFAR has Failed to Meet its Potential” is written by Scott Evertz, a Bush Administration appointee. The Council for Global Equality sponsored Evertz’ refreshingly honest research, the thrust of which is to advocate a more inclusive, science-based program that ultimately will make more effective use of taxpayer dollars.

PEPFAR is rightly praised for having provided anti-retroviral medicines to some 2.1 million people who otherwise may have lacked recourse to them. It has made HIV testing and counseling available to millions more, while providing care to orphans and others with little means to provide for themselves. But PEPFAR’s assistance pipelines largely have bypassed LGBT communities, leaving gaping holes in the logic of efforts to stem the disease.

At a pre-holiday preview of his report, Evertz demurred on whether PEPFAR’s exclusion of LGBT needs was a deliberate reflection of anti-gay bias. But PEPFAR’s emphasis of abstinence until marriage amounts to a built-in exclusion of gays and lesbians, for whom marriage isn’t presently an option. Indeed, only negligible funding has been targeted at prevention outreach to men who have sex with men – a population that remains, at least partly of consequence, highly vulnerable to HIV infection.

Dogma-over-science has undermined PEPFAR’s effectiveness in other ways as well. PEPFAR grantees must explicitly oppose prostitution – thereby undercutting outreach to commercial sex workers, a major avenue of HIV infection. Averting needle exchange programs for injecting drug users has torn another hole in PEPFAR’s impact. And by giving overriding primacy to “abstinence” and “be faithful” messages, with little attention to correct condom usage, PEPFAR programs have reduced sex education to an asterisk.

The most detailed and disturbing portions of Evertz’ report relate to how PEPFAR may have contributed inadvertently to the unraveling of Uganda’s previously successful fight against HIV/AIDS. The Ugandan Government readily adopted PEPFAR’s de-emphasis of condoms and related sex education as effective means of HIV prevention. Evertz also reveals tell-tale signs that some faith-based PEPFAR sub-grantees may have helped nurture the anti-gay climate in Uganda that has spawned a horribly homophobic draft law that may be put to a vote in the coming days. Those of us of the Christian faith should be first to speak out against this subversion of religion to justify state-sponsored homophobic hate, imprisonment, and even death.

Larger questions fleetingly emerge, without answer, from Evertz’ work. For example, how could the UN Security Council not have recognized until the year 2000 – almost 20 years into this health crisis – the global security repercussions of the spread of HIV/AIDS? But the most disturbing question is this: how were those who ran PEPFAR allowed to break the wall of public policy separation our Founding Fathers rightly erected between church and state – thereby infusing a ground-breaking public health program, and indeed America’s national foreign policy interests, with sectarian dogma?

This is less a question for historians to dissect, or even for the previous Administration to defend, than one that public policy experts must ensure can never rightly be asked again.

View the panel discussion about this report held on December 15, 2009 at the Center for American Progress:


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