Democracy Council starting new LGBT Global Rights Initiative

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Civil society organization the Democracy Council is starting a new LGBT Global Rights Initiative; its official launch will be celebrated with a party in Los Angeles on February 9.

The first of its kind to be created by a mainstream international development business, the initiative plans to work with LGBT activists around the world; the organization’s official page states, “The LGBT Global Rights Initiative will help local CSOs fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in vulnerable or underserved countries,” by providing organizations there with resources, training, and tools to make their voices heard and make a difference.

The president of the Democracy Council, James Prince, told press, “As Secretary of State Kerry and former Secretary Clinton have emphasized, LGBT rights are human rights. We are proud to be explicitly including LGBT equality in our work—and call on others to join us.

“Our core competency is getting on the ground, working in the trenches to support local activists in their brave struggle for equality. We work to give them the tools and resources to do the work they want to do.”

The organization’s page lists its range activities as including:

• Partnering with local and international LGBT organizations to “listen and learn” and understand the unique contexts of LGBT struggles around the globe
• Applying the Democracy Council’s experience of working with embattled CSOs to enable LGBT organizations to do their work more safely and more efficiently
• Training and skills transfer programs for LGBT activists, civil society organizations (CSOs) and public officials.
• Workshops for police, judges, and public officials.
• Technical, financial and political assistance for CSOs involved in organizing, advocating, lobbying, promoting rule of law and access to legal systems for LGBT rights.
• Specialized support for education and information campaigns dedicated to fighting ignorance and bigotry and otherwise affecting public opinion.
• Facilitating the networking of local and regional organizations.
• Supporting lobbying and political campaigns aimed at widening the political space for LGBT rights.
• Providing technical resources and sharing of best practices
• Linking LGBT CSOs to other civil society organizations, and promoting partnerships wherever possible

The model the initiative plans to follow is not seeking out the spotlight or setting out their own agendas, but instead “to work quietly and collaboratively” with local grassroots efforts who may be risking everything for the sake of their communities. The page states, “most of our work is done far from the cameras, directly assisting human rights activists and changemakers, even in extremely hostile contexts.”

One of the speakers confirmed for the launch party is Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, who has publically expressed concern about the safety of LGBT athletes set to compete at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. According to the Windy City Media Group, he said, “The situation for LGBT people in Russia, and in other parts of the world, is horrific. With its impressive track record, the Democracy Council is poised to make a real, immediate impact.”

The coordinator of the LGBT Global Rights Initiative is LGBT activist Dr. Jay Michaelson, who has also served as the Vice President of the Arcus Foundation, one of the world’s leading financial contributors to LGBT issues around the globe; he has also been involved with many of the US LGBT community’s responses to the increasingly hostile atmosphere in Russia.

Michaelson is already working on getting in contact with activists in multiple nations to find out how the Council can assist them; he told press, “There is no time to lose.”

Information on donating to the initiative or attending the launch party can be found here.

429Magazine

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