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The Global Equality Fund provides emergency assistance to human rights defenders and human rights programming support to grassroots LGBTQI+ organizations to catalyze positive change and draws its strength from the support and partnership of an international coalition of like-minded governments, businesses, and foundations.
Antony Blinken
Secretary of State

Introduction

Global Equality Fund equality | advocacy | dialogue | protection

The Global Equality Fund (GEF) is a unique and effective public-private partnership comprised of like-minded governments and private sector entities dedicated to advancing and defending the human rights and fundamental freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons around the world. Through the GEF, governments, companies, foundations, and NGOs work collaboratively to support local initiatives spearheaded by human rights defenders and civil society organizations working to protect LGBTQI+ persons from violence and abuse, criminalization, discrimination, and stigma, and to empower local LGBTQI+ movements and people.

This work is not possible without the support and leadership of GEF’s partners: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Uruguay, the Arcus Foundation, the John D. Evans Foundation, FRI: the Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the MAC AIDS Fund, Deloitte LLP, Royal Bank of Canada, Hilton, Bloomberg L.P., Marriott International, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, and Out Leadership.

About the Fund

The Global Equality Fund provides critical resources to civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights defenders, including those working to increase the visibility and empowerment of queer women, transgender and other gender diverse people, intersex people, and members of other marginalized LGBTQI+ communities, while advancing and protecting the fundamental principle of human rights for all. In over 100 countries worldwide, the GEF provides emergency assistance to individuals and organizations under threat or attack, small grants for grassroots CSOs, and human rights programming grants to meet the needs of LGBTQI+ communities with long-term, targeted support.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor manages the GEF with the support and partnership of a strong coalition of like-minded governments, businesses, and foundations dedicated to amplifying local LGBTQI+ voices and movements to catalyze positive change.

Mobilize: Mobilize funding and resources that strengthen LGBTQI+ movements and leadership that reflect the diversity of the community, including queer women and individuals from gender diverse communities. Support: Support CSOs and human rights defenders working on the frontlines to counter anti-gender ideology and advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ people. Empower: Empower locally-led and diverse movements leading efforts to mitigate violence and discrimination, including disproportionate violence perpetrated against transgender and intersex individuals. Connect: Connect donors, international and regional institutions and LGBTQI+ civil society to ensure that voices of local communities are heard, authentically represented and affirmed.

Strategic Support for Civil Society

The GEF manages programmatic support according to its Strategic Framework, developed through a deliberative, consultative process with civil society and other key stakeholders. GEF grantmaking provides support across four cross-cutting themes: Freedom from Violence, Access to Justice, Social Inclusion, and Empowered and Inclusive Movements and Organizations.

2021 GEF Strategic Framework

How the GEF Provides Support

  • Small Grants: Leveraging the global reach of GEF partners’ embassies and consulates worldwide, local CSOs receive small grants to support local community-based LGBTQI+ organizations.
  • Emergency Assistance: “Dignity for All,” the GEF’s rapid response mechanism, provides emergency and preventive assistance to CSOs, human rights defenders, and LGBTQI+ persons experiencing or under threat or attack.
  • Human Rights Programming: Long-term technical assistance addresses the unique challenges and opportunities faced by LGBTQI+ communities. Such assistance also helps build the capacity of local and national CSOs dedicated to advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.

In all regions of the world, the GEF supports program activities focused on the key themes identified in its strategic framework. Activities include legal empowerment trainings, capacity building support, strategic litigation, dialogues with local government officials and key regional and multilateral stakeholders, local and international advocacy campaigns, documentation of rights violations, and digital and physical security trainings.

The Lived Experience of LGBTQI+ People

LGBTQI+ people around the world experience discrimination, violence, harassment, rejection, and exclusion from society based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. In recent years, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of violent crimes targeting LGBTQI+ people. In addition, laws and policies that criminalize the status and conduct of LGBTQI+ people violate their human rights and undermine their safety and human dignity. LGBTQI+ people face a deluge of well-resourced attacks on their dignity, safety, and freedom, particularly from anti-gender movement and disinformation campaigns and often supported by prominent community leaders.

In 2021:

  • 69 UN member countries criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults
  • 43 countries have experienced a decline or no change in public acceptance of LGBTI people since 1981*
  • In 11 countries, same-sex relations are punishable by death

Sources: ILGA, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, State-Sponsored Homophobia Report, December 2020
*Williams Institute Global Acceptance Index, October 2019

Support the Fund

The GEF is a trusted partner and an essential resource to CSOs around the world that are on the frontlines in advancing human rights and equality for LGBTQI+ people. As it enters its second decade, the GEF will provide support to LGBTQI+ activists and CSOs to sustain and expand on notable achievements. In the face of backlash and opposition toward the community, much work remains, and the GEF will endeavor to meet the significant and evolving needs of the community.

Through financial and in-kind contributions, the GEF leverages the resources, expertise, and diplomatic support of its public and private sector partners to help empower CSOs, and partners are able to commit and contribute to the core values of human rights, equality, and dignity.

Corporate in-kind contributions are helpful in supporting organizations’ work in:

  • Leading digital safety and security training and providing technology assistance
  • Designing communications/social media strategies
  • Managing finances
  • Offering safe spaces for networking and meetings
  • Hosting convenings with vouchers for transportation and lodging
  • Providing legal assistance

For more information on partnership opportunities, please email globalequality@state.gov.

Apply for Support

Civil society organizations seeking support may apply for funding through:

Contact Us

For more information on the Global Equality Fund, please email globalequality@state.gov.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future