Sexual orientation and Gender Identity

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Sexual orientation and Gender Identity

Fighting Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Possibilities for Development Cooperation

Human rights apply to everyone, not only regardless of national origin, religious or ethnic background, but also irrespective of one’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Persons who are openly or secretly living gender identities or a sexual orientation that differ from standards deemed acceptable by the majority of society, are often subsumed under the acronym LGBTI. This means lesbian, gays, bisexuals, trans* and inter*. Another term is sexual minorities.

In many partner countries of development cooperation LGBTI are being stigmatized by society or discriminated against by state institutions. Some states even impose the death penalty on homosexual behaviour.

Against this backdrop, governmental and non-governmental actors of development cooperation have difficulties supporting organisations dedicated to or run by LGBTI or sexual minorities. This is a major setback for the promotion of social, legal and political change. 

Recording donor activities for LGTBI-rights in the global East and South

Research project: Mitigating discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity in state-led development cooperation

Practical guidance on integrating human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity in development cooperation

Workshop on the role of civil society in promoting human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity in external policies

Expert conference "Promoting rights instead of doing harm: LGBTI-inclusive human rights work in foreign policy and development cooperation"


Research project: Mitigating discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity in state-led development cooperation

Duration: 2011 – 2015

For a period of three years, the German Institute for Human Rights has been conducting analytical research identifying possibilities of government-funded development cooperation to support civil society in advancing human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Based on field research in two African countries, the Institute will analyse key concerns of LGBTI rights: How do LGBTI groups in the global South and East challenge socially entrenched discrimination? How do they make the international human rights discourse relevant to their local struggles? What strategies do they adopt to work towards legal and social recognition? And last but not least: What kind of donor support and action do they consider necessary and useful?

The now available study shows why development cooperation should further human rights of LGBTI. It illustrates how LGBTI activists are working, the challenges they are facing and their experiences with donors in development cooperation. It also outlines the international and regional human rights frameworks as they relate to sexual orientation and gender identity and reviews the extraterritorial obligations of donor countries in development cooperation. Two human rights instruments are examined  – the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) – with a view to how they are useful in promoting HR related to SOGI on the national and local level.

Andrea Kämpf (2015): Just head-banging won’t work”. How state donors can further human rights of LGBTI in development cooperation and what LGBTI think about it. (1MB, pdf)

The project has been supported and funded by the German foundation Dreilinden gGmbH.

Short description of the research project (PDF, 47 KB, not barrier-free)


Practical guidance on integrating human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity in development cooperation

In our cooperation with the GIZ sector programme on human rights we have conceived and elaborated the electronic info-tool "Sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights issues in development cooperation". This tool seeks to motivate development practitioners to consider human rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in development cooperation programmes. It introduces the relevant human rights framework, sketches out the situation of lesbians, gay, bisexuals, trans* and inter* (LGBTI) in different regions, and gives examples of how German development cooperation has dealt with human rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity so far.

The tool is part of our e-info-tool series on translating human rights into practical recommendations for development cooperation, published jointly by GIZ and the German Institute for Human Rights.

German support to the health sector in Kenya is one example of including promotion of rights of LGBTI in development cooperation. The German-Kenyan Health Sector Programme is documented in: Promising Practice: Health - Ensuring inclusion and access to quality health care in Kenya.


Workshop on the role of civil society in promoting human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity in external policies

On April 26th, 2013 the Institute jointly with the Hirschfeld-Eddy foundation organised a workshop on the role of civil society in strengthening rights of sexual minorities through external policies. The participants discussed ways to strengthen and broaden the already existing civil society coalition "Yogyakarta alliance" whose main objective is to engage continuously with German foreign and development policy in matters related to promoting human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity in external policies. All workshop presentations were held in German.

You can access the presentations in German here.


Expert conference "Promoting rights instead of doing harm: LGBTI-inclusive human rights work in foreign policy and development cooperation"

On 13 September 2011, the German Institute for Human Rights and the Dreilinden Foundation hosted an international conference on LGBTI and development cooperation in Berlin. The conference discussed the effects of political interventions and development policy on the rights of LGBTI and the ensuing question how harmful practices can be avoided and positive effects promoted.

A comprehensive documentation of the conference in German can be accessed on our website. Individual presentations available in English include:


Recording donor activities for LGTBI-rights in the global East and South

Jointly with the private foundation Dreilinden gGmbH, the German Institute for Human Rights has published for the third time a study recording financial contributions of German donors to rights-based LGBTI activities in the global East and South. This year’s study, written by Irene Knoke and Persson Perry Baumgartinger, captures contributions made in the year 2013. 

The study (in German, but with an Executive Summary in English. PDF, 2 MB, barrierfree)

Lead by the authors Arn Sauer and Lucy Chebout, the preceding study "Promoting Human Rights! – Rainbow-Philanthrophy 2" (original title: "Menschenrechte fördern! - Regenbogen-Philanthropie 2") was published by the GIHR and Dreilinden Foundation in August 2011, capturing contributions made in 2010.

Executive Summary (PDF, 51 KB, not barrierfree)

Complete Publication (in German)

The studies are inspired by the global report "A Global Gaze: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Grantmaking in the Global South and East". It was published by Funders for LGBTQ Issues for the first time in August 2007. The most recent Global Gaze report covers the year 2010, a follow-up is expected to be published late 2014 or early 2015.