Throughout the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people are the target of human rights violations. They are killed, tortured, raped, and sexually assaulted simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. More than 80 countries consider consensual, adult homosexual relationships criminal behavior. Penalties include lengthy jail sentences, torture, and forced psychiatric treatment. In at least seven countries, individuals can be executed for homosexual conduct.
Even in countries that do not criminalize homosexual conduct, hate violence remains prevalent. Other serious human rights violations against LGBTI people include invasions of privacy; arbitrary detention; and discrimination in employment, family rights, housing, education, and health care. Additionally, when LGBTI people try to organize to assert recognition of their basic human rights, their rights to freedom of expression and assembly are frequently denied, and they often face both government and nonstate violence and harassment.
Despite these challenges and the pervasive discrimination that exists, more and more LGBTI people are engaging in a vibrant and growing global social movement to advance their rights. However, while these rights groups now exist in every region of the world, they continue to face major obstacles including social stigma, lack of recognition by broader civil society communities, and limited resources.
The Open Society Foundations seek to empower LGBTI communities to promote and defend their human rights. The LGBTI Rights Initiative provides funding to local rights groups and regional networks in the developing world. It will also support global advocacy initiatives that advance LGBTI rights and complement efforts at the local level.
The LGBTI Rights Initiative provides support to strengthen the capacity of local LGBTI groups and regional networks in the developing world that advocate on behalf of individuals who are targeted for discrimination and other human rights abuses based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The initiative also supports international and national human rights groups engaged in advocacy that advances LGBTI rights, particularly complementing work being done by local groups.
Core Funding and Capacity Building for Organizations
While LGBTI rights groups have emerged throughout the world, many of these groups remain on the margins of their societies, have little access to resources, and are often not supported by broader civil society. Additionally, there are very few funders who are providing direct support to local LGBTI rights groups, particularly in the developing world. Through the LGBTI Rights Initiative, the Open Society Foundations provide funding directly to local groups to cover core activities that may include, though are not limited to, advocacy, documentation, education, and research.
The initiative works hand in hand with Soros foundations and programs, along with external partners, to ensure that LGBTI groups receive funding but also get the necessary support that enables them to grow, strengthen, and sustain their organizations.
The voices of local activists in the developing world are often missing from international debates about LGBTI rights and activism. The LGBTI Rights Initiative supports the development of regional networks to facilitate greater collaboration and sharing of successful strategies among rights groups working in similar contexts. In many regions of the world these networks lack resources for even basic operations. The initiative seeks to empower these networks to promote and defend LGBTI rights at the national, regional, and international levels.
Lesbian and bisexual women often face a double layer of discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender. They are frequent targets of rape or other forms of sexual violence. Since many of these attacks occur in homes or private settings, the violations are not well documented compared to those against transgender people or gay and bisexual men. Sexism, prevalent in larger society, is also present within the LGBTI rights community.
As a result, often the experiences of lesbian and bisexual women receive less attention. The initiative will give priority to organizations focused on their rights.
Gender Identity and Expression
Because transgender people challenge mainstream gender stereotypes, they often experience the most egregious types of human rights violations. State and nonstate violence against transgender people has been documented in much of the world. Groups working on issues of gender identity and expression are often the most marginalized within the LGBTI community and have the least access to resources and support. The LGBTI Rights Initiative will pay particular attention to supporting these groups and activists.
International, Regional, and National Advocacy Projects
Significant advances have been made in recent years toward recognition of LGBTI rights. The LGBTI Rights Initiative supports national, regional, and international advocacy efforts that seek to capitalize on these advances, complement local efforts, and build momentum for even greater progress.
The LGBTI Rights Initiative encourages organizations whose work is consistent with the above priorities to submit a concept paper. Priority will be given to local groups and regional networks working in developing countries and regions where there is the greatest need for support. International and national groups supporting advocacy efforts will also be considered.
To apply for a grant, interested organizations should send a two-to-three-page concept paper to firstname.lastname@example.org. The paper should include the following:
- A brief description of the project goals and planned activities. If the proposal is for core funding, this should include the group’s main goals and objectives for the coming year and the primary activities they plan to undertake in advancing them.
- Background information on the applicant organization as well as any key project partners.
- An estimated overall proposal budget and timeframe.
The initiative makes every effort to review concept papers within a month of receipt. If you have not received a response after that time, please assume that your concept paper is not being considered further.