We… make equality the centerpiece of our diplomacy in the world. We believe LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. In February, I signed a presidential memorandum establishing that it is United States policy to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
– President Joe Biden
Today, the U.S. government released a first-of-its-kind progress report on the implementation of President Biden’s memorandum on promoting the human rights of LGBTQI+ people around the world. This progress demonstrates the United States’ commitment to promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTQI+ people around the world through our diplomacy and foreign assistance.
The federal agencies are:
Fighting the criminalization of LGBTQI+ status or behavior abroad: The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with U.S. Embassies and USAID Missions, are taking innovative and bold steps to leverage diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance to promote the human rights of LGBTQI+ people, including raising concerns about the criminalization of LGBTQI+ status or conduct with local authorities, in collaboration with like-minded partners. U.S. Embassies and USAID Missions also continue to welcome government decisions that decriminalize LGBTQI+ status or conduct. As documented in the report, the scope and breadth of U.S. engagement in this critical area continues to grow and deepen.
Protect vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers: In December 2021, the Department of State announced a set of new pledges to support LGBTQI+ refugees, including enhanced training for UNHCR staff. The Department of State is also working to increase resettlement for LGBTQI+ individuals and members of other vulnerable groups through new and expanded referral programs with NGOs and other organizations to the U.S. Admissions Program refugees. U.S. Embassies also continue to support the needs of LGBTQI+ refugees by highlighting service gaps and supporting civil society partners. In February, the Department of Homeland Security released revised guidelines to recognize informal same-sex marriages for refugee or asylum purposes, even if they are not officially recognized by host country authorities. origin. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides resources for LGBTQI+ refugees and their allies, including intensive case management for refugees vulnerable to discrimination.
Ensure that foreign assistance protects human rights and advances non-discrimination: In fiscal year 2021, the Department of State increased its support for the Global Equality Fund to $10 million annually. The Fund now supports programs in more than 100 countries in all regions of the world. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also supported new initiatives to increase access to health services for LGBTQI+ people, including a new health and resource center for transgender people in India. USAID has released new guidelines outlining how to integrate the needs of LGBTQI+ people into food safety and education-related development programming. To advance non-discrimination in foreign aid, the Department of Labor has added new terms, definitions and requirements related to the promotion of LGBTQI+ human rights in its guidelines for its grant solicitations and contracts. overseas, and HHS has developed a similar equity appendix for the annual update to the Funding Award Guidance Notice. The U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Student and Teacher Programs also updated their applications to include non-binary gender options for the first time. And the Peace Corps has taken steps to recruit more diverse candidates, including hosting a panel on “Translating Transgender Identity Abroad” to specifically recruit transgender candidates. To coordinate these efforts and facilitate the sharing of resources and experiences, USAID is convening a thirteen-agency working group to discuss policy, programming, and inclusive data priorities.
Provide rapid and meaningful responses to violations of the human rights of LGBTQI+ people abroad: The Department of State’s Global Fund for Equality provides emergency funding to LGBTQI+ activists through the Dignity for All program to respond to active human rights violations and crises around the world. USAID programs incorporate flexibility and support for rapid response programs in the countries where they operate. And around the world, American diplomats and American development professionals are at the forefront of exposing attacks and violations of LGBTQI+ human rights. For example, in Poland, the US Embassy in Warsaw supported “Words Matter”, a video featuring members of the Polish LGBTQI+ community reading and reacting to homophobic comments posted in response to the Embassy’s social media campaign for Pride Month. The “Words Matter” video reached more than 12 million Poles and was widely covered by Polish and international media. In Guatemala, following the killings of Guatemalan leaders of the transgender community in June 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala issued a statement condemning the murders and calling for thorough investigations.
Building international coalitions: At the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in November, the US-led resolution on democracy and elections included for the first time a call on states to eliminate discrimination in the right to participate in public affairs based on “sexual orientation and gender identity”. The United States Mission to the United Nations led the lobbying campaign to include this important new language. The United States has also advanced LGBTQI+ human rights with like-minded partners in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Organization of American States, and in the Coalition for Equal Rights, which recently released statements with U.S. support focused on protection of LGBTQI+ people in Ukraineand on democracy and human rights LGBTQI+.
Cancellation of inconsistent policies: This administration continues to update policies that are inconsistent with the President’s Memorandum on Promoting the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ People Worldwide. USAID, for example, has reinstated a reporting mechanism to track overall foreign assistance that advances LGBTQI+ human rights and inclusive development. In conjunction with HHS, the Department of State has opted out of the “Geneva Consensus Statement” and requested its removal from the United Nations document system in February 2021. The Geneva Consensus Statement opposes the abortion and related reproductive health and rights and is widely seen as undermining LGBTQI+. human rights.
Advancing Inclusive Democracy: At the Democracy Summit, the United States supported a statement of the Equal Rights Coalition on Democracy and LGBTQI+ rights which affirms that the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBTQI+ people are essential to democratic renewal. As part of the President’s Initiative for Democratic Renewal, the State Department has also committed up to $5 million to launch the Global LGBTQI+ Fund for Inclusive Democracy and Empowerment (GLIDE), a new Global Fund for Equality program that will facilitate the participation and leadership of members of the LGBTQI+ community in democratic institutions. Additionally, at the Democracy Summit, USAID committed to launch a new Global Alliance for Development to help LGBTQI-led civil society organizations respond to the COVID-19 crisis, engage in democratic processes and create networks of allies. USAID intends to commit $5 million over five years to this program involving substantial capacity-building opportunities and direct grantmaking to LGBTQI+ and transgender organizations around the world.
Reducing bias-motivated violence: Agencies continue to take action to reduce bias-motivated violence and hate crimes targeting LGBTQI+ people. For example, the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of State, has Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) programs in Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, and North Macedonia that advance LGBTQI+ human rights and help their foreign counterparts to manage business, including LGBTQI+ people. Additionally, the RLA program in the Baltics assists investigators, prosecutors, and judges to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate hate crimes, including crimes motivated by a victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation. . To build knowledge about patterns of violence, discrimination, and appropriate responses, in September 2021 the Department of State launched a new partnership with the Library of Congress to assess existing academic research on the connections between bias, discrimination and violence, including against LGBTQI+ people. . The aim is to better understand which criminal justice interventions can prevent the escalation of violence. An inter-agency review committee will review the research findings and provide recommendations for future action.