Few details are publicly available but this is something big.
On Monday, the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) was to hold 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.
Foreign assistance agencies will work toward a goal of ensuring that USG implementing partners mirror USG non-discrimination practices for both employees and beneficiaries in the implementation of their programs. We issued a hortatory policy on October 11 for non-discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, political affiliation. USAID’s policy supports the human rights of all individuals. USAID’s inclusive policy simultaneously ensuring that faith-based implementing partners retain an exemption from the Federal prohibition on employment discrimination on the basis of religion when the organization receives financial assistance from USAID.
USAID/OFDA promotes non-discrimination among disaster-affected populations as a core component of protection by recognizing LGBT individuals for their distinct needs among vulnerable groups within an affected population. USAID/OFDA has issued an Annual Program Statement (APS) for sexual and gender based violence, in humanitarian assistance settings, that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, in the areas for which organizations may submit proposals.
USAID has included LGBT concerns in our discussions regarding our programs in the following regions:
LAC (Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica)
AFR (Uganda, Mali, Malawi)
Asia (Pakistan through the film “Bol”)
Through email conversations, meetings with civil society activists, and reading cable traffic, we are aware of LGBT concerns in the following USAID-presence countries:
Africa (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Namibia, Malawi)
Asia (India, Nepal)
LAC (Haiti, Jamaica, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, regionally through a conference in St. Lucia through ARC International)