Today, the United States and the Netherlands presented a Call to Action to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), thereby formally requesting that the Organization integrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusivity in its work. This Call to Action is a formal document that consolidates commitments to galvanize action and outcomes. It stems from a broader U.S. effort to counter discrimination and to support the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people worldwide. As Secretary of State John Kerry recently said, “No matter where you are and no matter whom you love, we stand with you.”
Along with a coalition of Member States, the United States is ensuring that LGBT issues rise to the top of the OECD’s agenda. The rights of LGBT people have long been couched only as a human rights issue and used as a political tool, but it is also an economic issue. Everybody deserves the same opportunities in life, the same chance to succeed, and the same rights to employment. Yet, studies have shown that LGBT people suffer from higher levels of unemployment, lower wages, and poorer health. This is not fair, and it is not acceptable.
The OECD is a global economic policy forum that provides analysis and advice to its 34 member governments and other countries worldwide. It leads efforts that are essential to US global competitiveness. It can contribute to advancing equality by doing what it does best. That includes collecting and analyzing data in a rigorous and apolitical way, something for which it is renowned throughout the world. It can convene experts from around the world – Member States, Partners, the developing world, business, and civil society – to share experiences and best practices. Finally, the OECD can craft clear, evidence-based, and well-respected recommendations based on these data and analyses. In similar work on gender, the OECD has documented evidence demonstrating that inclusion is a boon to growth and prosperity: clearing the way for participation in the economy and entrepreneurship boosted productivity levels for all segments of society.
It is time the OECD takes its strengths and applies them to LGBT rights. The United States, in partnership with Member States, will continue to ensure the OECD tackles this global economic issue.
About the Author: Jeri Guthrie-Corn serves as Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
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