Arcus Announces Fall 2013 Round of Social Justice Support

October 16, 2013

NEW YORK, NY (October, 16, 2013) – Shifting attitudes and, consequently, policies in multiple countries toward greater acceptance of LGBT populations is the goal of many of the 25 organizations receiving funding in the latest round of Arcus Foundation grants.

These grantees, including nine new organizations, share the view that culture change—particularly within religious movements, governments, and the media—is a necessary step to bringing greater safety and social acceptance, even in countries where official policy is unlikely to change in the near future.

Amid heightened moves to restrict LGBT freedoms in Russia, for example, the Russia Coordination & Funding Initiative will be a set of small grants that seek urgently to contribute to the building of a highly coordinated task force, in the country and internationally, that will conduct public education and prevent the spread of hostile policies to countries in Eastern Europe.

Working at national, regional and United Nations levels, Arcus’ International Human Rights Program is helping to build a global movement integrating sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) into shared conceptions of human rights. Arcus invests in policy and culture change in targeted countries in the Global South and East; in international forums for integrating SOGI into human rights mechanisms; and, in Global South leadership at the U.N. and regional bodies.

As part of the program’s country-level small grants program, a series of grants aimed at increasing access to justice, healthcare and protection in parts of Africa, Asia and Central America and the Caribbean has been allocated to several larger organizations that carefully identify and support local groups with deeply rooted connections to LGBT communities. Such funding was awarded to the American Jewish World Service—working in Kenya, Liberia, Nicaragua, and Thailand—and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice—working with LGBT groups in seven Central American and Caribbean countries.

In addition, this latest round of funding supports efforts to promote policies aimed at increasing LGBT safety and protection by UHAI-The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, the Fund for Global Human Rights, the Global Fund for Women, and Stichting Hivos (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries), which, collectively, support smaller LGBT-advocacy groups on three continents, from Turkey to the Philippines to Burundi.

The American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR), will use grant funds to advocate for improved health policies in the Dominican Republic, South Africa, and Thailand, through support to community-based groups working to increase transgender people’s access to care, including HIV-related care.

Raising the visibility and prominence of activists and LGBT allies is central to the work of several groups seeking to influence high-level change at national and international forums. The Johannesburg-based African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, for example, received support to document LGBT human rights conditions in multiple countries at the African Commission and U.N. Human Rights Council. The Buenos-Aires-based Akahata-Equipo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Generos will conduct similar activist-leadership-development work to inform the work of the Organization of American States and U.N.

Lifting the visibility of pro-LGBT clergy and advocates who are respected among LGBT people of faith and who are ready to challenge entrenched views and positions is key to creating a new, more accepting theology in the United States and internationally as part of the Global Religions Program. In separate ways, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Christian Church in Quezon City, Philippines, Many Voices in Washington, D.C., and the Vanderbilt University School of Divinity will work to strengthen the capacity of pro-LGBT religious leaders, often through education, training, and the media.

Arcus also supports South Africa-based Inclusive and Affirming Ministries, which is painstakingly engaging churches and empowering church leaders through workshops and presentations, while the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists will bring influential Bishop Christopher Senyonjo to the United States in 2013 for public engagements that coincide with screenings of the movie God Loves Uganda.

Youth audiences are the target of several campaigns within the U.S. Social Justice Program to amplify culturally relevant messages aimed at increasing socio-economic protections for LGBT youth, particularly those of color.  The University of Chicago: Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture’s Black Youth Project aims to establish new chapters and network with traditional civil rights organizations and LGBT organizations, sharing its analysis with media and advocacy organizations. The Applied Research Center’s Better Together Southern Cohort Initiative plans to develop strategic communications opportunities to build support for intersectional LGBT/racial justice in the U.S. South.

Additional organizations receiving funding under Arcus’ social justice programs this quarter were: Auburn Theological Seminary; Columbia University Center for Gender and Sexuality Law; Global Action for Trans* Equality (via Astraea); Heartland Alliance; Film Forum (for Lumiere Productions); Parliamentarians for Global Action; Schott Foundation for Public Education; and Transgender Europe.

About the Arcus Foundation 

The Arcus Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation that supports organizations around the world working to advance equality across the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) as well as conservation of the world’s great apes. Founded in 2000 by Jon Stryker, the mission of the Arcus Foundation is to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race, and to ensure conservation and respect of the great apes. The Foundation works globally and has offices in New York City, U.S. and Cambridge, UK.