We welcome the publication of the new White Paper on International Development by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office yesterday, with its focus on getting delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals back on track, on eliminating extreme poverty and on addressing the impacts of climate change. We are glad that there is clear recognition that progress on human rights is at risk and that this is particularly pronounced for women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights and for LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender-diverse) communities.
The specific focus on ensuring opportunities for all and on tackling the erosion of rights is essential. We agree with the Government that international standards and norms on women’s rights and gender equality are under threat and that in many countries people are criminalised simply for being who they are. Women and girls’ rights, particularly those linked to sexual and reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, are inextricably linked to LGBTI+ rights and we have seen strong progress when women’s and LGBTI+ rights activists work together.
There is vital acknowledgement that a concerted rollback of LGBTI+ rights is gathering pace across the world and that local LGBTI+ rights activists need support to counter serious violations. We welcome the Government’s commitment to scaling up proven solutions to reach those most at risk of being left behind, including LGBTI+ people, and to supporting LGBTI+ rights through new programming investments. However, the UK needs to go further and faster to tackle the worldwide crisis for LGBTI+ and other minority rights.
The White Paper reiterates the Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% on Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance ‘as soon as fiscal conditions allow’. We need the 0.7% spending commitment to be re-implemented immediately. Furthermore, we are calling on the Government to ring-fence 0.3% of that funding specifically for promoting and protecting LGBTI+ rights. We are also calling for a strengthening of the role of the Special Envoy on LGBT+ Rights to enable the UK to take strong leadership on the global stage. Our full recommendations for the Government are in our recently-published Policy Manifesto.