Arcus Announces Spring 2014 Social Justice Grants
At a time of swift and far-ranging changes in recognition of the human rights of LGBT populations across the globe, Arcus Foundation grants in the first quarter of 2014 in the Social Justice field seeks to establish firmly both the fundamental rights and cultural acceptance of people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), from the United Nations to individual communities and families.
Several of these grants aim to promote safety and protection for at-risk LGBT individuals or groups in countries around the world where homophobia and transphobia are actively encouraged or measures against SOGI-based discrimination are largely or entirely absent. Among them, a grant to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will allow the organization to support groups advancing LGBT policy, cultural change, and movement building in mainland China, including an effort to bring transgender, rural, and other marginalized communities into the movement.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Organization—creator of the world interactive LGBT map and convener of LGBT human rights activists—plans to train activists to engage with the U.N. Human Rights Council, promote transgender-related policy changes, and emphasize the compatibility of religion and LGBTI human rights. The Geneva-based International Service for Human Rights also aims to strengthen LGBT protections through the U.N., while Dublin-based Front Line—The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a resource for human rights defenders worldwide, plans to use funding to increase security measures for LGBT activists.
Supporting full equality under the law is PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law, which plans to train public-interest lawyers through a fellowship program and other initiatives aimed at defending LGBT rights in various regions of the world where legal protections are most critical.
Several organizations will use funding to empower Christian leaders to promote full inclusion of LGBT members in their religious communities and larger societies. The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago’s Chicago Consultation plans to use funding to build LGBT understanding and acceptance by organizing a third gathering for LGBT activists and high-level Anglican leaders from Africa and elsewhere. The Yvette A. Flunder Foundation (via Refuge Ministries) aims to build a coalition of 20 LGBT-inclusive clergy in both Rwanda and Zimbabwe and deepen work begun in Kenya.
Other organizations received funding to promote messages of SOGI acceptance by engaging with open-minded religious leaders who can use their influence to shift public views away from prejudice. Faithful America, in partnership with the Citizen Engagement Lab Education Fund, plans to support “Faithful America” public campaigns to promote greater media visibility for Christians who denounce the abuse of religious-freedom arguments to oppose full equality for LGBT persons. Dignity, Inc., received funding for Equally Blessed, a coalition of pro-LGBT Catholic advocacy agencies which will amplify pro-LGBT voices within the Catholic Church in preparation for significant international gatherings planned by Catholic bishops and the Vatican. The Interfaith Working Group plans to build the leadership capacity and networking ability of transgender spiritual leaders.
Reaching out among U.S.-based Latino/a communities with culturally authentic, pro-LGBT resources are the Pacific School of Religion’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, which helps families across the country to understand these issues and deepening contacts with communities in the U.S. and in various parts of Latin America, and Freedom to Marry’s “Familia es Familia” project, which exposes Latinos to research-based messaging about discrimination, bullying, family unity, and marriage equality.
Equality Advocates Pennsylvania was funded to support a People of Color Leadership Fund and a faith organizer in that state; the Center for American Progress to support the research- and communications-oriented Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality initiative, including increasing policy and culture change outcomes for black LGBT communities; and National Center for Lesbian Rights for cross-sector organizing with the reproductive justice movement.