This week, the Human Rights Campaign led a coalition of more than 45 organizations around the world calling on the World Bank to take stronger steps to support and protect LGBT people wherever the World Bank conducts its development work.
Nearly two years ago, the president of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, penned a groundbreaking and compassionate op-ed in The Washington Post.
“At the World Bank Group, we will have a full internal discussion over the coming months about discrimination more broadly and how it would affect our project,” he wrote. “My view is that the fight to eliminate all institutionalized discrimination is an urgent task.”
For an organization that has spent over $80 billion on development projects since that op-ed was written, the goal should be well within reach. With such a large budget, the World Bank wields enormous influence in the developing world and can lead the way on respecting the human rights and dignity of all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“Eliminating discrimination is not only the right thing to do,” he concluded. “It’s also critical to ensure that we have sustained, balanced and inclusive economic growth in all societies.”
While they did postpone a loan to Uganda in response to the anti-LGBT law passed there in 2014, there is much more to be done. In particular, Dr. Kim could:
- Appoint staff specifically focused on LGBT issues, to ensure Bank projects welcome LGBT people at schools, hospitals and other programs;
- Set aside funding for research on the economic status of LGBT people, how discrimination harms them and their countries, and how their well-being compares to their fellow citizens’ - in health, finances and other key areas; and
- Ensure that all bank projects take the unique needs of LGBT people into account, much as is already being done for indigenous populations.
Despite repeated requests from advocates and others, there is still no exclusively LGBT-focused staff at the World Bank. The World Bank also doesn’t have funding for the kind of crucial research that could help to pinpoint and highlight the economic, educational and financial challenges that LGBT face around the world.
HRC brought together a coalition of organizations from around the world - from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States - to call on the World Bank to take the simple steps hinted in Dr. Kim’s promising words two years ago.
As 2016 begins, HRC calls on the World Bank to make this the year that it joins other development focused organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to ensure LGBT people are protected, supported and welcomed in all of its work.