USAID Announces New Policy Prohibiting Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination in All Contracts

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has finalized a new non-discrimination policy that prohibits their contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ people in the services they provide overseas. USAID provides nearly $16 billion in foreign aid annually in more than 100 countries.

This new policy will be written into all USAID contracts, and will require contractors –both those based in the U.S. as well as abroad–not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the way they provide services. However, the policy only extends to contractors and does include grantees, who are also major recipients of USAID funds. It also does not include employment decisions for USAID contractors and grantees who undertake projects around the world across a broad range of areas, including access to healthcare, housing, food security and education. HRC released a one-pager detailing this new policy.

“USAID has taken an important step in ensuring that people around the world who are being helped by U.S. taxpayer-funded programs are able to access them without fear of discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Director of Government Affairs. “This is a critical protection that can make a huge difference in the lives of LGBTQ people.”

Stacy added, “While this is a step forward, we ultimately hope to see all implementers across all U.S. foreign affairs agencies – including USAID – include non-discrimination policies that cover not only the services they provide, but also the people they hire. No organization supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars should turn anyone away because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

HRC’s Blueprint for Positive Change, released in 2015, specifically advocated for new non-discrimination measures that would ensure that USAID funding is not used to discriminate against LGBTQ people around the world.

The announcement comes the same day Ambassador Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor will give a speech on protecting and promoting LGBTQ human rights around the world.

President Obama made clear in 2011 that the “struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.” In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama explained that protecting individuals, including those who are LGBTQ, is in the national security interests of the U.S. His Administration has taken major steps to bend the arc of history towards justice for LGBTQ people everywhere, including this action, spearheaded by USAID Administrator Gayle Smith and Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson.

The situation for LGBTQ people around the world varies widely. While a rising number of  countries embrace equality, LGBTQ people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution and violence in other countries.
  • 20 countries now have marriage equality and in two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.

  • But in up to 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 72 countries criminalize same-sex relationships.

  • Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

  • In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

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