Community-based social justice partners fight violence and bias against LGBTQ people

July 19, 2019

Partners awarded funding support from Arcus’ Social Justice Program this summer are focusing on the rights of the LGBTQ community with an emphasis on building leadership and standing up against violence and bias by media and religious groups, among others.

Several grantees, including the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, are seeking to bolster the LGBTQ anti-violence movement in the United States. AVP aims to shine a light on the disproportionate level of violence experienced in the LGBTQ community, including at the hands of police, and support survivors through counselling and advocacy. The New Venture Fund’s Communities for Just Schools funder collaborative, meanwhile, is building a national grassroots movement for positive school climate and discipline reform, by and for youth of color.

The Racial Justice Action Center (fiscal sponsor: Social & Environmental Entrepreneurs), is a vibrant, multi-racial organizing and training center that is organizing and building grassroots leadership within queer communities of color and low-income communities in Georgia. A previous successful project of the Center identified alternatives to incarceration that were suggested by people who have previously been incarcerated. The Center also focuses on addressing violence against, and the safety of, trans women of color, on the streets and within systems of detention, through its community-generated safety initiative.

PEMA Kenya is working to end violence directed at the LGBTQ community in Kenya’s coastal region, one of the most hostile given high levels of violence that is often exacerbated by negative religious rhetoric. The organization works to improve safety and social acceptance by engaging law enforcement, the media, service providers, families, and religious leaders.

Also making change in the religious sphere is the Yvette A. Flunder Foundation, whose Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in East Africa works to create a faith movement that is supportive of social justice and the rights of LGBTQ people. Its work counters negative religious views of the LGBTQ community by increasing positive media coverage and training pastors in progressive theology.

Mexico’s Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer ensures safety for lesbian women by supporting lesbian groups to not only document violence and discrimination, but also increase advocacy efforts. This is particularly relevant in Mexico, where the LGBTQ community experiences high levels of crime. It also supports lesbian groups by improving their leadership skills and alliances.

The community-centered Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico provides support to the transgender community, as well as to those who identify as gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and gender variant. Its network consists of indigenous, faith-based, women-led, and people-of-color led groups. The group’s work builds off of the 2018 gender marker policy wins for the TGNC/NB community in the state.

Advocates for Informed Choice (interACT) is developing legal strategies that advocate for the civil rights of American children born with variations of reproductive or sexual anatomy. Transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary activists are increasingly working with intersex communities to address violence in the medical profession and discrimination based on gender variances. Also working on legal protections is Pan Africa ILGA, which is strengthening the advocacy capacity of the African LGBT movement through representation before the African Commission and United Nations, and through a conference and an internship program for youth and women leaders from East Africa and southern Africa.

Finally, ILGA LAC (Asociacion Internacional de Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales, Trans e Intersex para America Latina y el Caribe) is being supported for the ILGA 2019 conference in Colombia, as well as the creation of an LGBTI rights documentation system in Latin America. This system will increase safety and allow for data collection disaggregated by race, gender, and gender identity. Also receiving support this funding cycle is the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States for a one-year legal fellow working with the LGBT Rapporteur at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.