In the wake of the US President’s decision to bar transgender people from the military, Plan International reminds him of his campaign pledge to protect members of the LGBTIQA+ community from stigma, discrimination, gender-based violence, and oppression, and to ensure the realisation of their human rights.
In 2014, an executive order was signed protecting U.S. employees from anti-LGBTIQA+ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors. Plan International calls for continued commitment from the United States government to oppose any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations (such as the U.S. military), or companies to discriminate against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Plan International believes that everyone -- regardless of their gender, age, sex, race, class, religion, ethnicity, ability, language, sexual orientation, or gender identity -- should have equal access to opportunities and services, and their safety be prioritized and protected. Since 1937, Plan International has been committed to advancing the health and prosperity of the world’s most vulnerable and excluded people and ensuring they can reach their full potential. Girls and youth who identify as LGBTIQA+ are typically the most marginalized and excluded members of society and are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence and discrimination. Gender-based violence and discrimination against young people can have lasting consequences on their social and psychological health, and have substantial adverse effects on society as a whole.
Challenges related to identifying as LGBTIQA+ often combine with other factors of exclusion, such as age, race, and religion, making gender inequality and exclusion often worse for LGBTIQA+ youth. LGBTIQA+ youth are at increased risk of being abandoned by their families and rejected, barred, or deterred from accessing education, health facilities, and other essential services, all of which undermine their ability to learn and develop the skills that are necessary for a fulfilled, healthy, and productive life as an adult. Additionally, LGBTIQA+ youth experience increased levels of suicide and depression compared to that of their peers, are subjected to extreme levels of bullying, abuse, and violence and, in many contexts, are the victims of hate crimes, torture, imprisonment, and killings. The challenges faced by LGBTIQA+ youth are exacerbated in contexts where sexual orientation and/or gender identity statuses and behaviors are criminalized by law and/or are the subject of harsh social and cultural norms.
The livelihoods of individuals who identify as LGBTIQA+ are further impacted by discriminatory employment practices. The majority of developing and many developed countries do not have comprehensive employment protections for LGBTIQA+ people. The absence of employment safeguards makes them vulnerable to indiscriminate firing or prejudiced hiring, negatively impacting earning potential and their ability to contribute to the economic development of their communities and countries. Discrimination, stigmatization, and exclusionary laws and practices contribute to poverty and exacerbate instability and conflict.
Plan International works at the community level in countries around the world to ensure that the human rights of children, girls, youth who identify as LGBTIQA+, and women are upheld; they are able to participate fully in democratic decision-making in their households, communities, and countries; they have equal access to sustainable livelihoods, economic assets, and resources; and they are not excluded from accessing education, health, and other services that are available to their fellow citizens and that are essential for well-being and growth.
The United States is a leader in championing equality and human rights both domestically and abroad. Keeping these vital protections in place sends a clear message to the international community that the rights and well-being of members of the LGBTIQA+ community are integral to a healthier, more prosperous society where everyone can learn, lead, decide, and thrive.
Program example(s): Plan International Vietnam and the UN Trust Fund for Ending Violence against Women are both supporting the Gender-Responsive project, which aims to reach roughly 30,000 adolescent girls and boys aged 11 to 18. The project promotes safe, accountable and child-friendly spaces where adolescent girls and boys receive a quality education in an environment free of violence.
Transphobic and homophobic bullying, Plan International Thailand: After training its staff in issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, Plan worked in partnership with UNESCO and Mahidol University to conduct comprehensive research on homophobic and transphobic bullying in secondary schools. The objectives included: gathering evidence on the specific nature, scale, and impact of bullying, and assessing the available support and educational needs for effective bullying prevention. The study led to recommendations for schools, policy-makers, society at large, and research institutions. Plan International and its partners used the results to design a three-year program, which aims to prevent school-related gender-based violence, including homophobic bullying and other forms of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.