PRIDE events abound in the month of June, especially here in the nation’s capital. John Kerry has championed LGBT equality for over 30 years, and now as Secretary he is leading the Department’s global fight to promote the human rights of LGBT individuals across the world. Today, Secretary Kerry delivered keynote remarks at the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) Pride event at the State Department. During his speech, the Secretary acknowledged and thanked the governments and organizations that have partnered with the Secretary’s Global Equality Fund. Launched in December 2011, the Fund represents a unique collaboration bridging governments, companies, foundations, and NGOs with the objective of advancing and protecting the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide.
The Fund currently provides critical emergency and long-term assistance in over 25 countries through small grants, capacity-building, and emergency protection. Our staff in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world play a strong role in helping to manage the Global Equality Fund, providing assistance and resources to local communities, as well as oversight to ensure grants are implemented appropriately, maximizing the impact of small investments. For example, the Fund supports regional workshops on legislative advocacy, human rights documentation and monitoring, and other capacity-building activities that strengthen the ability of local organizations to respond to the anti-LGBT legislation recently introduced in a number of eastern European countries.
With President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s support, the time is right to push for progress. Support from the Arcus Foundation, the MAC AIDS Fund, USAID, and the governments of Norway, France, the Netherlands, Finland, and Iceland and others enable the Global Equality Fund to leverage the diverse resources and networks of government, business and civil society to affect the change needed in the 78 countries where same-sex acts are criminalized, and around the world. All contributions to the Global Equality Fund are applied directly to supporting local LGBT communities.
We’re excited about the Global Equality Fund, but the needs far exceed our resources. The U.S. Department of State is actively seeking additional partners to increase the size, scope, and impact of the Fund, offering a real opportunity for organizations to show leadership and social responsibility in this area. Individuals and organizations interested in becoming a partner can contact Robert Haynie and Jesse Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.