Ahead of his participation at AidEx Brussels this year, we speak to Paul Jansen, Senior Advisor for Global Advocacy at OutRight Action International all about the things we must consider when designing aid and development interventions and their implementation to ensure LGBTIQ inclusion.
To what extent do you feel in 2019 the world has progressed on LGBT+ rights and equality?
In some ways we have progressed with the decriminalisation rulings and happenings in Trinidad, India, Bhutan, Angola and Botswana. Especially the India ruling is a victory that could have further effects as in many other countries the same pieces of colonial legislation are still in place. We have seen in Kenya how the court decided to keep it in place, despite the arguments of the Indian courts. We also see more attention for inclusiveness, diversity and equality for example in (multinational) companies and UN agencies, which is a great sign. But, we see also a fast growing anti-LGBTIQ movement and an anti-civil liberties movement in many places in the world to curb basic human rights and freedoms.
Do you feel the aid and development community is doing enough for the LGBT+ community around the world? What more should and could it be doing?
There is always two sides to the story. I know of organisations which do a lot to be inclusive and support the LGBTIQ community in many ways and within the organisation. But I also know many organisations for which it is still a difficult topic. I think we need to make the aid and development community much more aware of marginalisation and discrimination on the basis of SOGIESC/LGBTIQ and how this leads to this group is being left behind in aid and development efforts. I hear that there is no evidence or data available and that is one of the gaps that we would need to fill in context where data gathering is possible. Of course in criminalising contexts this is not possible at all and there the aid and development community could do much more with anecdotal evidence.
What are the main obstacles for LGBT+ equality?
In my opinion, as said above, there is a lack of data and understanding of LGBTIQ issues within the aid and development sector. And yes, to name it by its name, we also have enough stories of plain LGBTIQ phobia from staff working in aid and development organisations. The myths and misunderstanding surrounding LGBTIQ issues are hard to combat, especially when they are fuelled by negative sentiments in the societies where the aid and development community is operating.
How can we overcome these challenges?
This is a long process to make people understand that poverty and marginalisation could be the result of being LGBTIQ and therefore it is one of the layers that need to be addressed and unpacked in order to have the LGBTIQ community be part and have the fruits of any aid and development interventions. Data collection, human stories and other sensitization tools, research on the impact of interventions on LGBTIQ communities (for example: police training; do you train the police also to be more effective in hunting down LGBTIQ people?) and so forth are all important considerations to make when designing aid and development interventions and their implementation.
When do you foresee equality being achieved?
It will take a long, long time in a polarizing world, where inequalities are growing on many levels and in many areas.
What are you hoping to achieve at the High-Level political forum/what outcomes would be sufficient?
It is already great to be present and talk about these issues, so that participants get a much better idea and understanding. The ideal would be to have further conversations during the forum on how things concretely could be improved in the field for LGBTIQ people and their issues. Whether if it is within aid and development organisations and/or the programmes and interventions done by the aid and development community.
What will OutRight like to bring to the table during the panel discussion at AidEx?
We will discuss almost thirty years of experience of working in the field, many stories-good and bad- about development interventions that have impacted the LGBTIQ community and where we could do better. We are very much looking forward to taking part in the panel and to discuss with other panellists and the audience possible ways on how things could be improved - to set again another small step towards equality and inclusion of LGBTIQ communities and people.