GIR Colloquium | Conflicting development cooperation norms about LGBT+ rights in hostile environments
Conflicting development cooperation norms about LGBT+ rights in hostile environments
Presenter: Professor Stephen Brown, University of Ottawa
341 Social Sciences Building or via Zoom (Prof Brown will be in Sydney and presenting in person)
Sexual and gender minorities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people, are among the most marginalized populations in many regions of the world. As such, under the overarching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) principles of “leave no one behind” and social inclusion, to which donors and recipient countries have all committed, the wellbeing of LGBT+ people should be a high priority for development cooperation. However, that norm appears to be in direct conflict with the basic aid effectiveness principle of developing country ownership in countries that criminalize homosexuality or otherwise persecute their citizens based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. This paper analyzes that tension, highlighting the ambiguities and limits of the concept of country ownership when applied to sexual and gender minorities. It examines how, to date, donors’ efforts to defend LGBT+ rights in hostile environments have been generally ineffective and sometimes counterproductive. To reconcile the two norms, the paper proposes guidelines for more effective development cooperation on LGBT+ rights, emphasizing the bottom-up path to ownership, i.e., supporting local rights defenders and their strategies and priorities in order to build a national constituency for the greater respect of the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
Stephen Brown is Professor of Political Science at the University of Ottawa (Canada), where he is also affiliated with the School of International Development and Global Studies. Most of his research examines the nexus of domestic and international politics, often related to foreign aid. His most recent work is on LGBTQI+ rights. He is spending the 2022-2023 academic year as an International Fellow at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, University of Bayreuth (Germany).