Building a Safer, More Just World through LGBTQ Activism

November 16, 2022

At the heart of every democratic society lies the idea that all people deserve equal protection under the law. Yet virtually no nation offers full and equal protection for its LGBTQ citizens. What’s more, in many parts of the world, the needle toward progress appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

The latest grantee partners in Arcus’ Social Justice Program are working to fuel and sustain movements for justice led by the very communities most at risk of violence and marginalization. In the southern United States, East and Southern Africa, and across the globe, these organizations work at the crossroads of LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and socioeconomic progress to attain the vision of a truly safe and equitable world.

Bolstering intersectional trans and queer rights movements in the U.S.
In California’s Central Valley, LGBTQ immigrants, students, low-income workers, and people of color are too often pushed to the margins. A grant to California Rural Legal Assistance supports legal representation of LGBTQ residents who experience discrimination and harassment, including trans people in need of legal name changes and corrected identification documents, as well as training to ensure healthcare workers, lawyers, and other service providers can best understand and address the needs of these communities.

Power California received funds to mobilize a growing and diverse base of young LGBTQ people of color in the Central Valley. By establishing new membership hubs across the region and expanding civic engagement activities like community-based canvassing and nonpartisan voter drives, Power California will empower members of these communities to advocate for housing rights, climate justice, and healthcare equity.

Crossing the U.S. border as an LGBTQ asylum seeker or refugee has always been fraught with danger and difficulty, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a quickly shifting U.S. political environment have brought unprecedented new complications. Santa Fe Dreamers Project will use funding to secure the safety and liberty of trans and queer migrants before, during, and after their journey through the U.S. immigration system via advocacy, legal representation, and support services for migrants released from detention.

Mijente, which serves as a national home for LGBTQ-affirming Latinx organizing, received support to advance protections and safety for Latinx and immigrant LGBTQ communities in Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. By building partnerships with grassroots organizations in these states and uplifting the next generation of leaders through its fellowship program, Mijente aims to forge a Latinx base ready to advocate for real progress and policy wins.

As anti-trans movements and legislative efforts continue to threaten hard-fought progress for all LGBTQ rights across the country, trans-led advocacy organizations need ample resources to stand firm against the hate-fueled backlash. Third Wave Fund, fiscally sponsored by The Proteus Fund, received support for grantmaking and technical assistance to small and emerging organizations led by trans and gender-nonconforming people and women working to expand the movement for justice in communities of color in the U.S. Southeast and Southwest, especially outside the regions’ major cities.

Exploring intersections of faith, health, and safety in Africa
Faith leaders often play a major role in shaping Tanzania’s public policies, particularly in the Zanzibar archipelago, home to the nation’s largest Muslim population. A grant to Bridge Initiative Organization (BIO) supports the efforts of LGBTQ youth in Zanzibar to advocate for their rights within Muslim communities by educating local religious leaders on LGBTQ rights, culminating in a national forum for interfaith dialogue in partnership with other Tanzanian social justice organizations My True Colour and Youth Community Rehabilitation.

The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (galck+) leads a diverse coalition of 18 groups working to make Kenya a safer and more inclusive country for LGBTQ people. galck+ will use support to train LGBTQ communities to effectively prepare for and respond to threats to their security, as well as strategic litigation challenging the constitutionality of anti-LGBTQ laws.

Across Southern Africa, human rights organizations and activists are paving the way for greater rights and protections for trans and gender-diverse communities, and Gender DynamiX (GDX) stands at the forefront of the movement. Funding to GDX will support efforts to educate healthcare providers and government officials on LGBTQ issues and advocate for anti-discriminatory policies at all levels of government.

Forging networks for LGBTQ rights and protections across borders
One of the largest and oldest global LGBTQ rights organizations, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) represents more than 1,800 human rights organizations across more than 160 countries. ILGA received support to collect evidence of human rights abuses against LGBTQ communities and advocate for greater policy protections on the world stage, with a particular focus on representing groups traditionally pushed to the margins of the wider LGBTQ movement, including trans people, intersex people, and youth. Funding will also support ILGA LAC, the only organization with membership open to all LGBTQ rights organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the organization’s first regional conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two global trans rights organizations are working to ensure small, locally based organizations around the world are well-equipped to tackle the biggest challenges to trans lives and well-being in their communities. A grant to Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE) supports efforts to help trans and gender-diverse organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and East and Southern Africa strengthen their capacity to advance social justice while effectively responding to anti-gender attacks. Funding to the International Trans Fund (ITF) supports grantmaking to trans-led organizations advocating for trans people’s rights, self-determination, and well-being worldwide, as well as technical assistance and education to help funded organizations mitigate risk.

With a network of dozens of human rights groups and lawyers across 13 countries, Red de Litigantes LGBT de las Américas (LGBT Litigants Network of the Americas) has successfully advocated for LGBTQ rights and legal protections across Latin America and the Caribbean. A grant to Colombia Diversa, which provides administrative leadership and support for the network, will bolster efforts to promote new human rights standards in the region through court briefs, hearings, publications, and workshops.

A grant to Borealis Philanthropy’s Fund for Trans Generations (FTG) will provide funding, technical assistance, and mentorship to dozens of grassroots U.S. organizations to build a future in which trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people can live freely and without fear. Since 2016, FTG has partnered with more than 400 trans-led organizations advocating for LGBTQ rights and wellbeing in their communities, with nearly half based in the southern U.S. and more than 85% led by Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.

Also receiving a grant this funding cycle were:

  • Coalición Mexicana LGBTTTI+ in support of a nonpartisan movement promoting human rights protections in Mexico and full participation of LGBTQ people at all levels of Mexican government.
  • Equality New Mexico to expand and diversify the movement for LGBTQ rights throughout New Mexico, with a focus on partnering with local activists and leaders to increase public understanding of harmful laws and policies.
  • Just Detention International South Africa to promote the acceptance and safety of LGBTIQ+ people in detention through partnerships with formerly incarcerated people, human rights protectors, and civil society organizations.
  • Emerging LGBTQ Leaders of Color (ELLC) Fund at Borealis Philanthropy for a rapid response fund supporting LGBTQ and BIPOC organizations advancing reproductive justice in the U.S. following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had established that the constitutional right to privacy protects the choice to have an abortion.
  • Highlander Research and Education Center to catalyze grassroots community organizing and movement-building in support of economic, racial, and climate justice, and to map faith-led efforts for social justice in the U.S. South and Appalachian region.
  • Transforming Hearts Collective (fiscal sponsor: Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice) to provide faith leaders throughout the U.S. South with resources to advocate for trans justice and inclusion both within their faith communities and among the wider public.
  • Many Voices for work to open dialogue and advance understanding between and among LGBTQ people and Black communities of faith in the southern U.S., with an emphasis on engaging faith leaders in the movement for LGBTQ social justice.

Learn about all Arcus grants awarded since 2007.

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