A branch of the U.S. government announced an important new initiative on April 8 to promote rights for LGBT people in developing countries.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the main federal agency involved in foreign aid, revealed the plan, called the LGBT Global Development Partnership, at an event in Washington. According to the statistics provided, 85 countries consider homosexual activity a crime, and in 7 of those it is punishable by death, with Uganda currently considering a bill to become the 8th.
In areas such as Africa and the Middle East, frequent hate crimes leave LGBT people with reason to fear for their lives. Less than fifty countries around the world have any sort of regulations against anti-LGBT discrimination.
The new four year plan, with an $11 million budget, will see USAID working in a public-private partnership with UCLA’s Williams Institute, Olivia Cruises, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. The organizations will work with LGBT groups in each area to strengthen their organizations, train them in leadership and politics, and enlist their help in researching issues such as the impact of anti-LGBT discrimination.
The LGBT Global Development Partnership follows the memorandum given by President Obama in December 2011, directing agencies abroad 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.”
Also in 2011, United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights put out a report detailing patterns of anti-LGBT actions across the globe. According to their findings, anti-LGBT sentiment is a problem all over the world, from discrimination in healthcare, jobs, and education to torture, rape, and murder.
That same year, the United Nations passed an unprecedented endorsement of human rights for LGBT people.
The LGBT Global Development Partnership plans to start work in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras.