Out of the Margins is a two-year international project funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), to tackle the human rights violations faced by LBT+ people around the world that are regularly excluded by the international movements and systems that should serve them.
In a world where 70 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships, there is a lot of work to be done for LGBT equality everywhere. This is just one of the many reasons why Stonewall started working internationally in 2012.
Since then, we’ve run multiple knowledge-sharing and skills-building projects working with over 100 LGBT rights campaigners from around Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, Central Asia, and more recently Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Just like we aim to do in Stonewall’s domestic work, we want to build a programme of work that centres the most marginalised voices of the global lesbian, gay, bi, and trans (LGBT) movement. Through the work we’ve done, it’s become increasingly clear that lesbians, bi women and trans (LBT+) rights work is severely under-funded in comparison with both mainstream LGBT+ rights and gender equality work.
One of the primary problems LBT+ communities face is a substantial research and knowledge gap on their experiences and needs.
This lack of information makes it harder to advocate for change. When we don’t know about the human rights abuses experienced by the LBT+ community, it is harder to lobby effectively at the local, regional, and global level. Furthermore, there is a significant funding gap for LBT+ issues, especially for organisations based in the Global South and East. That’s why Stonewall’s latest project from the Global Programmes Team, Out of the Margins, has been designed to address these very gaps.
We recently launched this project by bringing 23 representatives from leading LBT+ organisations across three different world regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern/Southeast Europe and Central Asia) to London for a three-day planning meeting. During the meeting, a new network was established which includes 29 LBT+ rights organisations from 25 different countries. Within this network, five working groups were formed to address one of five different focus issues directly impacting LBT+ communities: health, civic and political participation, personal security and violence, education, and economic well-being. These working groups created plans to build evidence through in-country research projects and develop advocacy goals for the next phase of the project.
To bring a group of people together who work in contexts where their fundamental rights and security are regularly abused, and the multiple exclusions they experience are complex and varied, was incredible, challenging, but also vital.
If anything, the launch of Out of the Margins proved that this project and the platform it provides for LBT+ organisations, is essential for ensuring acceptance without exception, not just in the UK but around the world.
Over the next 14 months, Stonewall will support the participating organisations to implement their research projects and deliver on joint international advocacy goals to gain international recognition and support for LBT+ communities everywhere. It is vital that we champion and uplift the voices of the most under-resourced members of our struggle, who, in spite of great obstacles, continue to do the hard work of empowering and liberating their fellow LBT+ people.