From the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, at the beginning of this week:
I am en route to Washington, D.C., for a full week of meetings planned around the World Bank’s Spring Meeting. It was only a year ago that the Bank had its first LGBT-specific panel looking at LGBT issues as a poverty issue. You can review our report from last year HERE (PDF file).
A year later, there has been a lot of talk about LGBT issues within the Bank but we are not seeing the full weight of this important institution even begin to address the issues or recommendations from last year’s panel. Leadership for LGBT inclusion continues to rely on GLOBE (the Bank’s staff affinity group) and a handful of Civil Society Organizations who have been advocating for these issues, rather than being driven more intentionally from Senior Management.
Even the historic study detailing the estimated cost of homophobia in India ($31 billion per year) released last month by Dr. Lee Badgett of Williams Institute, was paid for by the Nordic Trust and not the Bank itself. Without a serious commitment to research and documentation, the LGBT community remains invisible and expendable.
President Jim Kim has attracted criticism from both sides on the Bank’s decision not to give a $90 million loan to the failing Ugandan health care system because there were no guarantees LGBT people could have equal access to the benefits of this loan. Kim shared his position this week in the Washington Post (“Here is why the World Bank withheld aid to Uganda.”)
This week, a dozen LGBT leaders from all over the world who represent many of the countries (where LGBT people live in abject poverty and face discrimination every day) will be present for the Spring Meetings and will meet with the President of the Bank and members of Congress. As draconian legislation finds support in Russia, Nigeria and Uganda, we may be only on the threshold of more negative reaction from other countries.
How the Bank and the US government respond represent critical steps towards a more equitable process where specific minorities within countries are given access to health, education and business opportunity, or are fear-driven steps in retreat from controversial issues over sexuality, culture and religion.
Undoubtedly, there will be other even more complex contexts than Uganda, where the noble words on LGBT inclusion and human rights that are part of the Bank’s rhetoric, and from the US government, will come face to face with reality.
These conversations are critical, not only for those of us who are travelling long distances to be in Washington, but for the millions of LGBT people and their families and neighbors who stand in solidarity with them, who are watching to see if the Bank will do the right thing and give them the attention they deserve.
- How the World Bank can help end global LGBT poverty (October 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Ending global LGBT poverty – will the World Bank help (October 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Guyana man will advise World Bank on LGBT poverty (September 2013, 76crimes.com)
- World Bank eyes how anti-LGBT stigma boosts HIV, poverty (April 2013, 76crimes.com)
- How to enlist World Bank in fight for gay rights (April 2013, 76crimes.com)
- World Bank may join fight against anti-LGBT bias (July 2012, 76crimes.com)