Niko Knigge

LGBTI, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people face discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives. They are denied access to employment, education, and health care. They are targeted for attacks solely because of their gender expression or perceived sexual orientation. Perhaps most painful of all, and unlike most other minority groups, many face violence and rejection from their own families and religious communities.

“At a time when there is so little funding for human rights work at the grassroots, and even less for women’s same-sex relationships, the Fund stood by us. Through its suggestions, monitoring, and evaluation, it is clear that our marginalized voices matter to the Fund.”
Maya Sharma, Vikalp Women’s Group, India

The Fund has made grants to groups working on the human rights of LGBTI persons since our inception and we currently support human rights organizations in every region in which we work to promote the enjoyment of rights by all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).

While the activism takes different forms and advocates operate in extremely varied cultural and political contexts, they face common challenges. There generally are few groups focused on sexuality rights in any one country and they often are isolated from mainstream human rights organizations. Therefore, the Fund helps them garner wider support by connecting them with the broader human rights movement and helping them build coalitions with other groups working on sexuality rights and personal rights. We also help them respond to serious security threats and efforts to criminalize their work.

While these issues are extremely challenging, LGBTI people are taking control of their own futures and winning major victories. For example, in Uganda we’ve provided steadfast support to LGBTI human rights defenders challenging the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” and thus criminalized the work of activists working to protect the rights of LGBTI people. Thanks to the work of Fund grantees and others, the law was overturned less than a year after it was passed.