In 35 out of the 54 countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender-diverse (LGBTI+) is still considered a criminal offence, sometimes punishable with up to 15 years of imprisonment – or even the death penalty. Every day, Kaleidoscope Trust and our partner organisations work to advance and defend the rights of LGBTI+ persons globally and to ensure they are protected from the ongoing impact of laws like these, many of which were imposed under the British Empire.
Through The Commonwealth Equality Network’s (TCEN) consistent efforts across the Commonwealth, we have made a demonstrable impact in the lives of LGBTI+ people. From rapid crisis response to legal reform, to changing hearts and minds, our work uplifts, empowers, and supports LGBTI+ communities. But amidst a global pandemic, a crisis of sustainability has emerged. TCEN is composed of over 60 civil society organisations, many of which have been hit especially hard by Covid-19.
This makes the support provided to TCEN by the Canadian Government a remarkable and much needed development in the fight for LGBTI+ human rights globally. Guided by its Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada’s international assistance efforts focus on reaching the poorest, most vulnerable, and most marginalised, to support their empowerment so they can claim their rights and have their voices heard. We are greatly encouraged by Canada’s commitment to support organisations, movements and alliances such as ours help tackle the roots of sexual and gender-based violence and improve the lives of LGBTI+ people.
Commenting on their support of TCEN, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) says:
“Canada places gender equality and the protection and promotion of human rights at the heart of our efforts to address inequalities around the world. Our approach recogni[s]es that all people must enjoy the same human rights, regardless of any aspects of their identity, including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics. By applying an expanded definition of gender equality, which includes gender-diversity, to policies and programming, we are seeking to better enable LGBTQ2I communities to contribute and benefit from Canada’s international assistance.”
GAC’s support, coupled with TCEN’s mission to uphold LGBTI+ rights in the Commonwealth, will effectively help our member organisations to further develop their advocacy efforts, increase public understanding on key issues of the LGBTI+ community, and support local civil society organisations’ work by providing small grants for campaigns and research initiatives.
Discrimination against LGBTI+ persons is a problem in the Commonwealth and beyond, and requires urgent action that applies a truly inclusive and intersectional lens. TCEN is committed to transforming this financial support into tangible results, improving the lives of LGBTI+ people, rehabilitating resources lost during the pandemic, and ensuring long-lasting change for everyone facing discrimination based on their gender, gender identity and sexuality.