December 2009: The European Parliament, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson, and Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel, each threaten aid cuts in direct response to the proposal of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.
October 30, 2011: UK Prime Minister David Cameron suggests British foreign aid be tied to the respect for LGBT rights in recipient countries.
December 6, 2011: US President Barack Obama issues a ‘Presidential Memorandum‘ outlining new international initiatives to ‘advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons’. The same day, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton marks the upcoming International Human Rights Day by delivering a landmark speech in which she vows that the United States will fight discrimination and protect the rights of LGBT people everywhere through diplomacy and $3 million in foreign aid.
June 26, 2011: Following the now (un)clearly demarcated US foreign policy regarding LGBTI, the US Embassy to Pakistan hosts what it determines to be ‘Islamabad’s first ever gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Pride Celebration’ demonstrating its ‘continued U.S. Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society’. The backlash is swift, organized, and directly targeted at ‘the budding underground Pakistani LGBT movement‘.
November 14, 2013: the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest US-based LGBT advocacy and lobby group, announces an initiative, initially bankrolled by major conservative and Republican party donors, to expand their support of LGBT rights and fight against homophobia and transphobia internationally.
April ’14, 2014: An article in OUT magazine titled ‘Next Year in Kampala?’ questions not when, but how America’s ‘LGBT rights industry’ will go global in the coming year.
It’s not difficult to discern a trajectory to these events: Gay rights, as especially conceived by Western (read: globally northern) politics, policy, and philanthropy, are going global with the increasing help of ministries and departments of foreign affairs, international NGOs, and multinational corporations.* While many of the developments have been hailed, sometimes legitimately, as steps in the right direction, there are likely to be quite a few road bumps as LGBTI concerns solidify as critical components of the international policy landscape.
This blog is a space for critical observation, inquiry, and comment on the development and deployment of these new rainbowed paradigms of diplomacy. The coming years will be crucial in discovering and reflecting on how LGBTI identities and issues interact with states and states’ interactions with each other, and I invite you to contribute to that discovery here.
* The use of the word ‘gay’ here and in the blog’s title alludes to the elision of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming identities in much of the discourse surrounding LGBTI rights.