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Amplifying Evidence on LBQ Lives During Women’s History Month




Haoran Chen
Published Date

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Outright is thrilled to publish three recent pieces of research conducted by our grantee partners under the aegis of Outright’s LBQ Connect program. The three studies, which include country research in Tajikistan and Sudan and a regional report on Latin America, highlight the challenges and triumphs of lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women across diverse contexts. Each study unveils a complex interplay of societal challenges, legal hurdles, and struggles to build alliances, including within mainstream feminism.

In Tajikistan, one of our grantees, who asked not to be publicly named for security reasons, conducted a needs assessment of 50 lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans women, focusing on social, legal, and health needs. Our partner organization found that amidst the backdrop of a traditionally religious society with deeply ingrained gender stereotypes, LBQ women face “widespread deliberate silence” and rights violations, with 58% of respondents reporting that they do not feel safe and 72% reporting a need for mental health services in the last year. Despite recent legislative attempts, such as the Law "On Equality and Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination," the exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity from protection highlights the ongoing struggle for recognition and safety. This study captures the urgent need for inclusive legal frameworks and showcases the vital role of local initiatives in addressing the multifaceted needs of LBQ women, from social and psychological support to legal aid and healthcare access. The needs assessment results will inform the advocacy work of local groups in international fora, in particular in the framework of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), as well as in their efforts to resource the movement.

Shifting our focus to Sudan, researchers Samah Khalaf Allah and Afaf Doleeb of the TAGA Collective delve into the intertwined dynamics of the feminist movement and the LBQ community within a society marked by political upheaval. Their report, "Balancing Act: Navigating Socio-Political Hegemonies and its impact on LBQ and Feminist Discourse in Sudan," reveals that the post-2019 revolution era brought forth a surge in collaboration between feminist and queer groups, challenging patriarchal and heteronormative ideologies. This relationship has at times been characterized by LBQ activists as “thorny and exclusionary,” with one interviewee pointing out, “The feminist struggle, while expansive, frequently finds itself navigating turbulent waters, sidestepping areas perceived as 'volatile,' like LGBTQI+ rights, in a bid to circumnavigate societal backlash." Still, the report illuminates the potential for the "newfound synergy" to forge pathways towards "a tangible, collective experience of solidarity" in the face of shared societal and legal adversities. The study is timely because LBQ and feminist movements, while both struggling for gender and sexual equality, continue to face significant challenges in working towards shared goals in societies that are dominated by oppressive ideologies and power structures. The research is expected to contribute to the fields of Sudanese and African Studies, providing a nuanced and detailed analysis of the intersections between gender, sexuality, and social justice in this context.

In Latin America, Outright grantee partner AFDA outlines how the struggle for justice and recognition for LBQ individuals unfolds across varied terrains of legislative progress and persistent societal challenges. This nuanced landscape is explored in "The Latin American Chainsaw in Access to Justice for LBQT+ People." In Mexico, anti-discrimination agencies like Conapred and CEAV face reduced operability due to budget cuts and marginalization. In El Salvador, law enforcement primarily documents, rather than actively addressing, violence against LGBTIQ people. In Ecuador, while institutional progress includes the establishment of an Undersecretary of Diversity within the Human Rights Directorate as well as an LGBTI+ Advisory Committee for the National Council for Gender Equality, activists still report “a total invisibilization of officially registered violence, committed against lesbian and bisexual women." Meanwhile, in Argentina, national laws and policies encounter implementation challenges, notably in Buenos Aires, where Rodríguez Larreta's government is criticized for defunding comprehensive sexuality education and banning inclusive language. The study sheds light on access to justice as a common challenge that transcends national borders. In the short term, LBQ groups will use the report to design data-based advocacy and to raise awareness of the impact of violence, institutionalized lesbophobia, biphobia, and transphobia on access to justice. In the medium term, the research will serve as input in the debates on judicial reform and public policies in the region regarding access to justice for LBQ people and favor the participation of LBQ communities and movements in the design and monitoring of public policies.

These three compelling reports lay bare the multitude of challenges LBQ women face in diverse global contexts. Power dynamics and social norms expose them to a distinct array of rights violations, and enforced silences abound. Despite these needs, alarmingly, today, only 5% of global LGBTIQ funding is specifically directed to LBQ issues–partly a result of the dearth of data on LBQ lives. By identifying where support is most lacking and where interventions can be most effective, LBQ-focused research plays a pivotal role in centering LBQ voices, guiding the allocations of resources, and shaping gender-focused policy initiatives.

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