Published on Sustainable Cities

Building LGBTI alliances isn’t just for solidarity, but key to shared prosperity

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On May 17, we will join individuals, families, and organizations around the world to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, or IDAHOT.

The annual IDAHOT commemoration is an important reminder – to all of us – that the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) matters deeply for sustainable development . It matters because it is about fighting discrimination and promoting social inclusion. It matters because it is key to ending poverty and building shared prosperity.

The global theme of IDAHOT this year is “Alliances for Solidarity.” But beyond showing solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities, what do other important roles alliances play in combating homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia?

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Overlapping disadvantages

We never have only one characteristic by which we self-identity, or by which others identify us. We have multiple identities by which society recognizes us, as well as how we identify ourselves – be it real or perceived – our race, our gender, our ethnicity, our “SOGI”, and many more.

[Video blog: Three things we need to know about “SOGI”]

For many people, it also means that they experience exclusions often based on more than just one personal characteristic. For example, when an LGBTI person is also a person with disability, they face overlapping dimensions of stigmatization and discrimination.

This so-called “overlapping disadvantage” can lead to increased vulnerability to social exclusion and violence.

Look no further than school bullying. Data in different parts of the world show that LGBTI students are much more likely to be bullied in school than their non-LGBTI peers  – compounded by the fact that people with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied in school.

The impact of overlapping dimensions of exclusion? Quite simply, discrimination and bullying lead to lost educational opportunities, which then leads to loss of employment – that is – economic opportunities over a lifetime. The impact is the same for both persons with disabilities and LGBTI people.

[Read report: Inclusion Matters – the Foundation for Shared Prosperity]

Alliances for shared prosperity

This is where the theme of IDAHOT 2018 comes in: The shared exclusion helps us understand that we need to have one another’s back – through creating powerful alliances.

Historically, alliances have always been pivotal to successes in struggles for equal rights. In South Africa, for instance, some multi-racial religious groups were allies to combat apartheid. The civil rights movement in the United States linked up with many non-African American allies to push forward the racial equality agenda and finally achieved success under the law. The same could be said for the women’s rights movement.

Drawing lessons from the past, we are teaming up with policymakers, civil society organizations, academia, and other development organizations from around the world to advance the SOGI / LGBTI inclusion agenda  as a fundamental step to achieve equal opportunity and shared prosperity for all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Watch the video blog with World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, SOGI Advisor Clifton Cortez, and Disability Advisor Charlotte Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo to learn more about the power of alliances and their work on SOGI and disability inclusion.



Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez

Former Regional Director, Africa, Sustainable Development Practice Group

Clifton Cortez

Global Adviser on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)

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