Leaving No One Behind: Needs and Wants of LGBTIQA+ in Sync with SDGs

Project Statecraft celebrates Pride Month! Pride Month, observed every June, honours the Stonewall Uprising which started after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a homosexual club in New York City, on June 28, 1969. LGBTIQA+ civil rights activists, including Marsha P. Johnson, demonstrated against the prejudice, brutality, and policing of LGBTIQA+ persons in front of Stonewall Inn for six days. Before the Stonewall incident, there was a great deal of opposition against state-sanctioned violence and discrimination against the LGBTIQA+ community. However, this event is still regarded as a turning point in the LGBTIQA+ civil rights movement as it has inspired a new generation of political activism for decades.


Even though we celebrate LGBTIQA+ pride all year long, June is a particular month when we can express far more pride in our real identities in honor of the Stonewall Uprisings of June 1969. We cannot, however, disregard the ongoing violence and persecution endured by the LGBTIQA+ community worldwide. Anti-LGBTIQA+ legislation, which affects how people treat people belonging to the LGBTIQA+ community in workplace, school, home, and in all other facets of society, puts the health, well-being, and lives of people belonging to this community in danger every day. When diversity and inclusion are promoted, the surroundings and environment of such individuals are not only made safer but also stronger on an emotional and mental level and assist in the removal of social biases against them. (Ley, 2022)


The wants and needs of the LGBTIQA+ community were first prioritized in 2015 when the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Signed and adopted by 193 countries, the Sustainable Development Goals are broken down into seventeen interconnected subgoals that are to be achieved by 2030. The states acknowledged the necessity of "Leave No One Behind" in Agenda 2030 due to the historical, social, and systemic exclusion of marginalized groups and vulnerable people.


The LGBTIQA+ community has frequently been excluded in national and international development programs, making the "leave no one behind" principle particularly pertinent to them. The LGBTIQA+ community has been held back by oppressive laws, programs that ignore their unique requirements, and unfavorable social views. LGBTIQA+ groups around the world are affected by this in a variety of ways, including lower income, bad health, and low levels of education.


While 7 of the 17 goals do touch upon the issues faced by this community the name of the community is not explicitly mentioned anywhere. Whether it is the government or private sector, achieving the goals prescribed in the 2015 New York Summit while also alleviating the ill conditions of people belonging to the LGBTIQA+ community is a shared responsibility. The following section highlights what these 7 goals are and what can be done to help achieve them.


GOAL 1: END POVERTY IN ALL ITS FORMS EVERYWHERE


The LGBTIQA+ community has a tougher time finding work, maintaining their security, and achieving their goals as they’re subjected to exclusion and prejudice in different forms. Numerous individuals belonging to the LGBTIQA+ community also experience rejection from their families. By excluding same-sex spouses and parents, formal social aid can also be discriminatory. Poverty might result from discrimination, but the opposite is also true. A person's daily discrimination increases with their level of poverty, and their ability to pay for escape routes decreases. Sadly, development initiatives that disproportionately benefit heterosexual couples, whether on purpose or due to insensitive design, can exacerbate all of these problems. To achieve goal 1, the following actions can be undertaken at various levels:

  • Learn more about the economic discrimination faced by LGBTIQA+ individuals by conducting research.

  • Ensure that private sector development initiatives are planned to meet LGBTIQA+ people's economic needs.

  • Ensure that social assistance programs (such as cash transfers) acknowledge the needs of the LGBTIQA+ community and support the most vulnerable.

  • Encourage LGBTIQA+ individuals to launch their enterprises through favorable loan schemes and more inclusion and promoting participation in government incubators.


GOAL 3: ENSURE HEALTHY LIVES AND PROMOTE WELL-BEING FOR ALL AT ALL AGES


There are several ways that the LGBTIQA+ community is denied access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including clinics that refuse to treat them or secondary schools that neglect to cover LGBTIQA+ issues in sex education. Due to this, LGBTIQA+ individuals may be more susceptible to contracting HIV and other STDs. A lot of excellent work notably has been done to address sexual health needs, particularly those relating to HIV. Most notably the Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW), a Member Association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), has provided specialized health services, information, and counselling to the LGBT community since 2008. However, much more has to be done to look after the needs of the members of the community. (Stonewall, 2020)


Unfortunately, the exclusion of LGBTIQA+ people from healthcare is not limited to issues of sexual and reproductive health. The LGBTIQA+ community receives subpar care across the board due to discrimination, and lack of information on the part of health professionals. Due to the exclusion and stigma faced, they face more significant mental health challenges. It is critical to recognize these disparities as structural injustices that put the LGBTIQA+ population at risk for both mental and physical health problems. To fulfill SDG 3, states may be required:

  • Establish national safe homes and queer-affirming mental health helplines.

  • To enhance the quality and accessibility of the treatments, safety procedures, and streamlined gender-affirming therapies it is imperative to sensitize and equip the healthcare professionals with the required knowledge.

  • Public healthcare systems should step in to help reduce the stigma around trans procedures and also provide them either free or at a minimal rate.


GOAL 4: ENSURE INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE QUALITY EDUCATION AND PROMOTE LIFELONG LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

Young people are mistreated or rejected because they are unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity in schools and colleges all around the world. Some students find it impossible to finish their studies and quit early, while others may suffer in silence and receive subpar grades; negatively impacting their prospects for the future. The effect of discrimination and ill-treatment tends to be much more profound on the mental health and well-being of a few individuals which may also extend much beyond their schooling and college days. However, negative social views could be countered even before they become ingrained in the minds of members of society if schools and colleges advocate for the rights of all people and highlight positive LGBTIQA+ role models. The inclusion of safe practices in the sex education curriculum along with inviting members of the community to inspire the next generation could go a long way. All young people, including those belonging to the LGBTIQA+ community, could then learn in a supportive environment and acquire the skills needed for the future. Some key recommendations as suggested by the Madras High Court to follow are:

  • Make sure the student who identifies as a different gender has access to gender-neutral washrooms and toilets,

  • Transgender students' names and genders are to be changed on their academic records [with appropriate gender pronouns],

  • Inclusion of the term "transgender" or “others” in the gender columns alongside M and F in applications for admission, competitive entrance tests, etc.,

  • Appointment of LGBTIQA+ inclusive counselors to discuss issues that staff or students may have and to offer workable solutions. (Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, 2021)



GOAL 5: ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS


Due to the intersection of their LGBTIQA+ status and gender, lesbian, bi, and trans women may be the targets of numerous forms of discrimination and violence. When reporting crimes to the police, for instance, women are already treated less seriously than men in general; but, if they identify as lesbian or bisexual, this is made worse. Sadly, by solely offering support to opposite-sex couples and families, development programs can worsen the disadvantages that LBT women already experience. Additionally, these programs frequently use a constrictive definition of "gender" that excludes trans people. However, Goal 5 calls for an end to all forms of prejudice against women and girls. In order to address these issues, a thoughtful strategy is needed; one that prioritizes assistance for LBT women because they are the ones who experience gender-based violence and discrimination the most. Thus, the need of the hour is not just to reduce the gender gap that exists in various spheres of life between the binary genders of man and woman, it is also important that equality is also achieved for all spectrums of genders that individuals identify themselves as.



GOAL 10: REDUCE INEQUALITY WITHIN AND AMONG COUNTRIES


Regulations, institutions, and behaviors that either ignore or purposefully omit the LGBTIQA+ community sometimes serve to promote hostility against them by unfavorable social perceptions and incite opposition to the LGBTIQA+ community's calls for equality. Goal 10 calls for everyone to take a stand and promote full equality. In particular, target 10.2 prohibits exclusion on the basis of ‘other status’ - a catch-all term meaning that whatever your status, whether you are LGBTIQA+, disabled, a migrant, or part of any other protected group, the SDGs apply in your case as well. In support of this idea, the UN has clarified that LGBTIQA+ people must be afforded dignity and human rights (UN Human Rights Council Resolution 17/19). Goal 10 could be achieved at a personal level by each individual by supporting campaigns sponsored by LGBTIQA+ organizations that demand the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies as well as giving the members of the community the dignity they command. States and countries that do not recognize and ostracize the community need to realize the negative social environment they create as members of the community are just as much of an asset to the country as a man or a woman. (Stonewall, 2020)


GOAL 11: MAKE CITIES AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS INCLUSIVE, SAFE, RESILIENT, AND SUSTAINABLE


As a consequence of Prejudice, many members of the LGBTIQA+ community find themselves as homelessness as they are compelled to leave their homes because they are mistreated by peers, shunned by relatives, or subjected to violence. The bigotry of landowners may also contribute to this plight of LGBTIQA+ individuals. LGBTIQA+ individuals are more likely to experience physical assault, sexual abuse, and issues with their physical and mental health while homeless, especially young people and the elderly. Studies from Italy, Turkey, and Uganda uncovered high rates of LGBTIQA+ homelessness. They discovered that assumptions of heterosexuality made by housing providers contributed to young LGBTI people being turned away from accessing housing services (Botti and D’Ippoliti 2014, Biçmen and Bekiroğulları2014, Nyanzi 2013). They may be unable to receive assistance due to the inaccessibility or lack of suitable support services and providers’ inadequate comprehension of their needs. Thus, it has become extremely essential to achieve Goal 11 after the pandemic, where members of the community suffered the most due to restrictions on movement and thus were treated poorly by relatives. To alleviate the situation, these steps can be undertaken:

  • Supporting and educating local government and housing organizations to consider the unique needs of LGBTIQA+ youth. This can be achieved by awareness campaigns and training sessions organized by resident welfare associations.

  • LGBTIQA+ populations in danger of homelessness, notably young people and the elderly who register for housing requests with the local governments should be offered specialized services, such as safe houses. (Stonewall, 2020)



GOAL 16: PROMOTE PEACEFUL AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PROVIDE ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR ALL, AND BUILD EFFECTIVE, ACCOUNTABLE, AND INCLUSIVE INSTITUTIONS AT ALL LEVELS


It is wrong for anyone to be subjected to any sort of abuse, but the LGBTIQA+ community frequently faces the extra difficulty of police and security agencies not taking their complaints of assault properly. One-third of trans people in the EU have experienced violence or were threatened with violence in the last five years. About two-fifths of trans people who were victims of violence in the last 12 months said they had been violently attacked three times or more in the same year (EU Agency for Fundamental Rights 2015). In some situations, especially where discriminatory laws exist, the police and security services that are supposed to protect LGBTIQA+ people attack and harass them. Because of the media's and judicial system's homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic attitudes as well as regulations that forbid civil society organizations from speaking out, LGBTIQA+ individuals are particularly susceptible to grave violations of their fundamental human rights. Thus, to achieve SDG 16, the following actions have to be taken:

  • It may be possible for police and security agencies to offer the right help if they have received training in how to handle LGBTIQA+ hate crimes delicately.

  • Internal Committees at workplaces should be made to address LGBTIQA+ hate crimes. (Stonewall, 2020)



Conclusion

Society must involve the LGBTIQA+ community in decision-making roles in order to implement Agenda 2030 and really leave no one behind. Genuine integration across all aspects will be ensured by providing a supportive atmosphere that allows queer and trans people to make legislation and practices equitable for the community. The countries shall fall short of upholding the adage "Leave No One Behind" if immediate action to address prejudice and harassment against LGBTIQA+ populations based on their actual and perceived gender identity and sexual orientation. In an effort to fight prejudice and ensure the effective participation of LGBTIQA+ individuals, governments across the world ought to abolish discriminatory laws, establish protective legislation, reform institutions, and implement policies.



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