Nearly one and a half years have passed since the German federal cabinet adopted its “LGBTI Inclusion Strategy for Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation”. The government thereby commits to making the protection of LGBTI rights an integral part of its foreign policy and development cooperation work. The document is viewed as a model on the international stage.
It is difficult to determine the degree to which the Inclusion Strategy is being put into practice. A monitoring process is scheduled for three years from now, i.e. at the end of the legislative period in 2024. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) reports that it has intensified its work for this target group via its development cooperation agency the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). LGBTI-inclusive projects in Latin America, Asia and Africa are being supported, as are studies by organizations such as Outright International and an ILGA World fund to counter Covid and hate speech. According to the Federal Foreign Office, human rights funding has been increased and work by diplomatic missions abroad has been intensified. LGBTI organizations can apply for project funding at German embassies. All of this is an important step ahead, but it is by no means enough. We therefore hereby remind the government and our readers of the main requests by the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation and the Yogyakarta Alliance to implement the LGBTI inclusion strategy:
The BMZ needs to set up a project group to put the LGBTI Inclusion Strategy into practice! A crucial focus of this project group must be on raising awareness for the Inclusion Strategy and ensuring that all departments and units do their part to promote it. For example, the BMZ’s internal training department must always include the LGBTI Inclusion Strategy and LGBTI concerns as a quality feature of human rights work. The GIZ, as the agency that carries out this work, has set a good example and is offering specific events in Spanish for the Latin American region. Another crucial focus of the project group must be on coordinating with civil society and especially with LGBTI organizations in the respective countries.
The ”Do no harm” approach can only truly be implemented in close cooperation with civil society. This will make it possible to assess what is needed and what actually advances LGBTI rights. There are no excuses for not doing this, because LGBTI people can be found in every country and society. The BMZ needs to be proactive in finding contacts, and we are happy to facilitate this.
Germany’s missionary and colonial history and the tendency to downplay the colonial history need to be examined and held to account. At the urging of the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation and the Yogyakarta Alliance, the Inclusion Strategy explicitly mentions missionary and colonial history: “Local history and the life stories and traditions of LGBTI people, including relevant aspects of missionary and colonial history, are essential considerations.” This may be easier said than done. The project group (see above) should therefore also address what this means in concrete terms for development work on the ground.
No furthering of persecution and stigmatization: It must be ensured that development cooperation work funded by the German government does not channel any financial support to organizations involved in the persecution and stigmatization of LGBTI+ people. This must also apply to projects by the GIZ as well as e.g. faith-based development cooperation organizations that are publicly funded. All government ministries must know of the Inclusion Strategy. This, too, is a task for the BMZ project group.
“Shrunk-space update” for funding requirements from the BMZ: The BMZ’s requirements for funding applications, project reporting, and own contributions from applicant organizations are excessively complex and bureaucratic. The bureaucratic aspect in particular is prohibitive. Small NGOs here in Germany have de facto no way of applying for project funding given e.g. the illusory financial contributions required of applicant organizations. Yet it is precisely these small groups that need to be integrated because more often than not it is they who have the contacts with LGBTI communities in partner countries. Here it should also be noted that the BMZ only accepts registered NGOs as partner organizations in other countries. This resembles a bad joke: LGBTI organizations cannot even register as NGOs in countries that criminalize their existence. To expand and strengthen the space for civil society in authoritarian states, the BMZ needs to reform its funding allocation practices. At a time when spaces for civil society are shrinking, a “shrunk-space update” is needed.
This also includes targeted, unbureaucratic and sustainable structural support for small LGBTI organizations in the Global South and East. The BMZ needs to set up a fund for human rights defenders . The main message here is that a structured approach is the only way to put the Inclusion Strategy into practice. The BMZ needs an implementation plan for the LGBTI Inclusion Strategy which also provides financial backing for this overall approach.
We need more and better LGBTI+ projects in all partner countries, and this can be achieved with the LGBTI Inclusion Strategy! Please do more!
Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation, Yogyakarta Alliance Coordinator
This was the topic of panel 2 for the conference “Do no harm – but do something: How to minimize risks for LGBTI in international human rights work” on 3 November 2022. Click here for documentation of the conference.
• Press release from The Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Germany (LSVD) about the Queer Action Plan from the German government (18 November 2022)
• The BMZ needs to set up a project group to put the LGBTI Inclusion Strategy into practice! The Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation, Dreilinden gGmbH and filia.die frauenstiftung call on the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to create a “project group to implement the LGBTI inclusion plan”. Press release, November 2021
• Recommendations and questions from the Yogyakarta Alliance on implementing the German government’s LGBTI Inclusion Strategy. Working paper, December 2021
• Finally! The German government adopts an LGBTI inclusion plan for foreign policy and development cooperation (article with press review and links, April 2021)
• Video: Sven Lehmann, Commissioner for Queer Rights in Germany, and Jessica Stern, US Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTIQ+ Persons, talk at the US embassy on 14 October 2022
This text is part of the project “Do no harm – How to minimize risks for LGBTI in international project work” from the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation. All project texts are posted in the blog under the tag “DNH-2022”.