Making LGBT Rights Human Rights Through the Global Equality Fund

When celebrating Human Rights Day as a global community, we are reminded of efforts taking place to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons all around the world. Through the work of passionate and committed leaders, and support from both the public and private sectors, we are starting to see more barriers to equality broken down and a new era of acceptance slowly emerging.

Here at the State Department, protecting basic human rights serves as a one of our core diplomatic priorities, and Secretary Kerry, a long-time advocate for LGBT rights, has been committed to strengthening existing efforts.  Through the Global Equality Fund, a unique partnership effort led by the U.S. Department of State, bridging government, companies, and civil society organizations, we are supporting civil society’s efforts to advance the human rights of LGBT persons with the shared objective of creating an environment in which LGBT persons can live freely and without discrimination.

Since its launch in December 2011, the Fund has allocated over $7.5 million to civil society in over 50 countries worldwide, to help support efforts that challenge discriminatory legislation, build organizational capacity and document human rights abuses that target LGBT persons.  The Fund has provided capacity building and technical assistance around the world to local and national civil society organizations, and its rapid response mechanism, Dignity for All, even provides emergency and preventative assistance to civil society organizations and activists to enhance their ability to respond to security concerns, assist victims of abuse and implement advocacy initiatives.

The State Department continues to expand its support of initiatives to protect and advance human rights across the world through the Global Equality Fund.  We are proud to collaborate with public and private sector partners such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the governments of Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, the John D. Evans Foundation, the Arcus Foundation, the LLH: the Norwegian LGBT Organization, the M.A.C. AIDS Fund, and most recently Deloitte, LLP, in support of such an important global mission to advance LGBT rights as human rights.

We’ve made great progress through these efforts, and as we celebrate Human Rights Day, we look to build on this success and hope others will join us in our work to ensure basic human dignity for all.

About the Author: Andrew O'Brien serves as Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State.

Follow the Secretary’s Global Partnerships Office on Twitter at @GPIAtState.

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