Skip to main content


Queering Humanitarian Action: Outright International's Crucial Role in Crisis





Outright Team
Published Date

In the face of crises, be they disasters, conflicts or other emergencies, vulnerable communities bear the brunt of the impact and often are left behind during recovery. For the LGBTIQ community, this vulnerability can be exacerbated by pre-existing stigma and discrimination, combined with a lack of understanding among mainstream humanitarian agencies. This is why Outright is pioneering critical approaches to humanitarian action that ensure inclusivity, dignity, and survival for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

A Gap in the System
Humanitarian relief efforts have traditionally fallen short in addressing the unique needs of LGBTIQ individuals before, during, and after crises. These needs include protection from violence and scapegoating, the availability of safe transport and shelter and the necessity of specialized medical care, including access to hormone treatment and HIV-related care. At best, there's often a lack of the necessary cultural sensitivity and awareness to create safe, appropriate avenues for support. At worst, intentional exclusion can occur due to deeply ingrained societal biases and discriminatory beliefs and practices. The LGBTIQ community, like any other, has a fundamental right to survive and access basic necessities such as shelter, medical care, and sustenance. Yet, in times of crisis, these rights are frequently neglected.

Enter Outright International
Outright International is changing this narrative by queering humanitarian aid, ensuring no one is left behind. Founded on the belief that human rights are universal and indivisible, Outright International works tirelessly to create a world where LGBTIQ individuals can live free from discrimination, persecution, and violence – even during the most challenging times.

Understanding the Crisis: Emergency Funds in Action
When crises strike, immediate action is required to alleviate suffering and save lives. Outright International's emergency funds have been a lifeline for LGBTIQ individuals in harm's way. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Outright International disbursed nearly $4 million to over 300 LGBTIQ organizations in over 100 countries. These funds serve as a beacon of hope, providing critical resources and support tailored to LGBTIQ individuals’ unique challenges during emergencies.

The Russian war on Ukraine serves as another poignant example of the importance of Outright International's emergency funds. As Russia’s full-scale invasion escalated, LGBTIQ individuals were displaced and marginalized, often fleeing to unfamiliar territories for safety. 

Outright International's partner organizations in Ukraine and neighboring countries recognized the situation's urgency and reached out for support. The emergency funds provided by Outright International ensured that these organizations could offer essential services, from safe shelter to medical care and social support to those in need. Outright International has disbursed over $3 million to 40 organizations in Ukraine and bordering countries. These organizations provide shelter, psychosocial support, food, cash assistance and job skills training; document human rights violations and hate crimes; and advocate for legislation to establish equal civil rights.

Challenges Amplified: A Multifaceted Crisis
The crisis in Ukraine has highlighted the intersectional challenges LGBTIQ individuals face during emergencies. Existing prejudices and institutional barriers compound displacement, lack of access to medical care and discrimination. For instance, trans and nonbinary individuals whose legal identification papers did not match gender presentation have faced particular challenges due to Ukraine's conscription policies. Outright International's documentation of these struggles showcases the critical need for targeted assistance that considers the diverse needs of LGBTIQ communities.

Beyond Borders: Regional Impact
The impact of queering humanitarian action extends beyond the immediate crisis. Russia's history of targeting human rights defenders and promoting state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia presents a looming threat to LGBTIQ individuals in Ukraine and the region. Neighboring countries, often hosting refugees from crisis-stricken areas, are not immune to rising hostility toward LGBTIQ individuals, as seen in Hungary and Poland. This ripple effect poses a significant danger to the progress made in advancing LGBTIQ rights and could potentially roll back hard-earned achievements.

Resilience and Hope
Outright International's work is a testament to resilience and hope. By queering humanitarian action, the organization stands firm against discrimination and exclusion. Our distribution of emergency funds serves as a lifeline, a tangible demonstration of solidarity and support, for LGBTIQ individuals during their most difficult moments. The organization's efforts in amplifying the voices of LGBTIQ activists, raising awareness, and advocating for change are invaluable in fostering a more inclusive and compassionate world.

No one should be invisible or left behind, especially during a crisis. Outright International’s mission to strengthen LGBTIQ inclusion in humanitarian action, bolstered by its emergency funds, emphasizes every individual’s inherent worth and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics. Even amid a crisis, we aim to ensure a more inclusive and just future for LGBTIQ people everywhere.

Take Action

When you support our research, you support a growing global movement and celebrate LGBTIQ lives everywhere.

Donate Now