Defending LGBT Human Rights Through Advocacy and Litigation Is Aim of Arcus’ Summer 2016 Social Justice Portfolio

June 30, 2016
Furthering local leadership and expertise to advance LGBT protections in the Global South is the aim of several grants in the Arcus Foundation’s summer 2016 cycle of awards.

A first direct grant to the Johannesburg-based Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa, an organization focusing on litigation for sexual rights in Africa, was awarded to increase the number and capacity of lawyers defending LGBT people across Africa and build the organization’s capacity to advance sexual rights in individual countries and regionally. This work completes that provided by groups like Iranti-Org, also based in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was funded to document and report on human-rights abuses against lesbians and trans people in Africa.

Also working internationally, Human Rights Watch plans to use funds to build on its work documenting and publicizing the impact of laws legalizing homophobia and inciting anti-LGBT violence in countries, which include Russia and Nigeria. The organization also aims to pursue its research and campaigns on bullying of LGBT youth in Japan and abuses in Egypt and Morocco in partnership with groups in these countries. Ensuring protection of LGBT refugees, particularly amid the recent influx to Turkey, through training international agency staff is the aim of a grant to the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration.

A grant to the Council for Global Equality, which has formed a coalition of 29 LGBT and human rights groups in the United States, will support its work with the U.S. government’s foreign affairs and development policies, including efforts to improve the State Department’s emergency response to LGBT human-rights abuses. On an international scale, OutRight Action International plans to use funds to promote LGBTI rights at the U.N. and with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in partnership with an ASEAN LGBT group.

Countering religious exemptions to antidiscrimination law in the United States is the aim of grants to the American Civil Liberties Union, Catholics for Choice, and the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia University, all of which are working to reframe religious liberty in inclusive terms, whether through the courts, religious bodies, or policy-making bodies.

In keeping with the focus on religious exemptions, Dignity USA and the Equally Blessed Coalition, are working to combat the firing of LGBT staff and allies, who support marriage equality, at Catholic Institutions. Faith in Public Life is combatting discrimination by rallying faith leaders, especially in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, to speak out on behalf fair and balanced religious exemption policies.

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, The Inner Circle aims to train and mobilize Muslim leaders and activitsts to build and strengthen the global queer Muslim movement and promote an inclusive and compassion-centered Islam.

The Gay-Straight Alliance Network and New Venture Fund each received funding to improve the climate toward LGBT students in schools by countering racist and homophobic school suspension policies, redefining codes of conduct, and creating educational resources.

A grant to the United We Dream Network Network, which works to stop detention and deportation of immigrants, including undocumented and LGBTQ immigrants, will help the group foster intergenerational leadership leading to favorable court decisions on U.S. residency rights for youth. The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project plans to use a grant to increase its capacity to address violence in local communities and use its extensive research base to better serve survivors.

The True Colors Fund plans to use continued funding to address LGBT youth homelessness nationwide by partnering with other advocates to end youth homelessness by 2020. The Ruth Ellis Center, which works to change child-welfare systems at the state and local levels, received continued funding for Out in the System: A Family Preservation Initiative to better serve LGBTQ youth of color and their families in Illinois’ juvenile justice system.

BRITDOC, a documentary-film production company, received funding to ensure the broad impact of three Arcus-supported documentary films and to support a pilot project to nurture the professional development of eight LGBT producers.

Grants were also provided to Allied Media Projects, BFM Films Ltd., Casa Ruby, Clubfunder, Forward Together, Global Interfaith Network, GRIOT Circle, Inc., Heartland Alliance, Horizons Foundation, Institute for American Values, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Intersections International, Native Americans in Philanthropy, OUT Miami Foundation, Pacific School of Religion, Pan Africa ILGA, Pembizo Christian Council, Pride Youth Theater Alliance, Reconciling Ministries Network, Stonewall Community Foundation, StoryCorps, Sylvia and Marsha LLC, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Episcopal Church, The Initiative for Equal Rights, William Way LGBT Community Center, and Wilton Park.