Tuesday, June 12, 2012

USAID to launch LGBT Global Development Partnership Initiative

[UPDATE - 6/14/12: I have been told that Monday's event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for the fall]

Few details are publicly available but this is something big.

On Monday, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is holding a gathering at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, to celebrate LGBT pride month and to launch their Global LGBT Equality Partnership.

USAID was launched by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to handle civilian foreign aid. It operates based on guidelines from the U.S. President, the U.S. Secretary of State and the National Security Council and its goal is to provide "economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States."

The Partnership would make it current USAID policy to make federal foreign aid available to agencies working to strengthen LGBT rights throughout the world although I assume it would limit it to a number of nations that meet certain diplomatic standards and to organizations that have the infrastructure to handle federal grants from the United States.

From the event press announcement:
Eighty-five countries and territories criminalize LGBT behavior, seven countries have a death penalty for same-sex sexual activity, and fewer than 50 countries punish anti-gay discrimination in full or in part. The partnership will enhance LGBT equality through providing a greater voice in civil society and political processes, increased access to services including police and justice systems and improved economic security.
The Partnership will cast a worldwide net but, speaking specifically about Latin America, a lot of the limited funding that LGBT-rights organizations get comes from local and European sources. One of the few exceptions when it comes to U.S. foundations has been the work of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice which has long recognized the benefit of supporting international LGBT work.

I know from sources that USAID has been laying the groundwork and already granted some awards.  Details will have to wait another day.

The initiative follows a presidential directive last year to use U.S. foreign aid money to secure and protect LGBT rights throughout the world and the exemplary work done by the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on these same issues.

On a related matter, today the U.S. Department of State released the following pride month message from Hillary in which she addresses several of the Department of State's international achievements.

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