Spring Grantees Highlight Education, Litigation, and Religious Voices As Ways to Amplify LGBT Advocacy Work

April 6, 2018

Many of the recipients of support in Arcus’ spring 2018 grantmaking portfolio are focusing on educational and legal strategies to amplify the messages of the LGBTQI community, from media training to advancing human rights litigation and policy analysis. They are also harnessing the positive voices within religious communities to advocate for acceptance and inclusion.

Several grantees will be using their spring grants to fund their LGBTQ media work. Support provided to Investigative Reporters and Editors  will help provide training to journalists, editors, and activists, so the organization can create positive coverage as well as organized responses to negative media portrayals of the LGBT community. Similarly, Iranti-Org received a grant to aid its work on LGBTI human rights documentation and advocacy, as well as to train and support local groups with video documentation and other media efforts. As an indigenous African organization, Iranti-Org has created a network of Southern African activists using video to highlight human rights abuses against LGBTI people and to advocate for remedies.

Some of the grant recipients in the spring cycle of funding are focusing their work on the religious arena. Of these, Muslims for Progressive Values is advocating for an inclusive Islam that is supportive of international human rights norms and is committed to the development of a network of imams committed to LGBT equality and gender justice. The Starr King School for the Ministry is using its grant funds to complete a three-year research project that examines a wide variety of Islamic theological and legal sources, in order to develop an interpretation that is inclusive of diverse sexualities.

Meanwhile, The Reformation Project is building a theological case for the evangelical embrace of LGBTQ people, in order to provide a call for inclusion in the face of prevailing voices of rejection. The social and cultural rejection of LGBTQ people rests largely on the theological opprobrium evangelical and other communities of faith have visited upon them, and it often underwrites the motivation for hate crimes and the reluctance of police systems to pursue such crimes.  Church Properties Reimagined will be using its grant to deepen support for proposals to embrace LGBTQ inclusion as official policy of the United Methodist Church. It has also recruited a group of well-connected individuals to provide leadership to the project.

The Proteus Fund is using its grant to further the efforts of its Rights, Faith and Democracy Collaborative, which builds strategic collaborations between reproductive justice and LGBTQ movements to combat religious exemptions. In a similar vein, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation is receiving support for its Religious Exemptions Communications Hub, which spurs communications efforts in driving and shaping the public narrative around religious exemptions that harm or would harm LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities.

Legal strategies are at the heart of the work of two grant recipients this cycle. Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (Promsex) is working on LGBTI human rights protection through litigation, advocacy, and partners in Honduras, Colombia, and Peru, and is also developing a peer network on strategic litigation. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law is developing legal and policy analysis and strategic messaging as part of its Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, which aims to strike a careful balance between religious and other fundamental rights.

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will continue its work in support of trans-led groups worldwide, helping transgender movements to self-organize and to advocate for the right to self-determination and well-being. The National Center for Lesbian Rights is working on a wide spectrum of intersectional and cross-sector programs, including in the rapidly growing area of its youth and immigration-focused programs.

Also receiving grants this cycle were the Association for the Prevention of Torture, Fondo Lunaria Mujer, ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration, Washington Blade Foundation, Foundation of Theological Education Institution in Indonesia, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Many Voices, Pacific School of Religion, Rocky Mountain Conference United, LULAC for the Unión=Fuerza Network, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Equality Virginia, Gender Justice League, The Freedom Center for Social Justice, Trans*H4CK, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Front Line – The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Pembizo Christian Council, Political Research Associates, Convergence, FreedHearts, and Mazzoni Center.