Guiding Principles on the Inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTQI) People in Development Policy and Programs

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The United Nations 2030 Agenda is an ambitious plan which envisions a world free of poverty, hunger, disease, and want, a world where legal, social, and economic barriers to the full realization of human potential have been removed, and a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity. Though the 2030 Agenda does not explicitly reference LGBTI people, inclusion is a core principle of the new development goals refected in the pledge to leave no one behind. The 2030 Agenda provides an opportunity to celebrate and improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people, their communities and their nations.

These guiding principles are meant to guide all actors in designing, implementing and monitoring international, national, and local development activities related to LGBTI people. They incorporate empirical and scientifc knowledge as well as current international human rights standards. They should also be an advocacy tool for stakeholders working on development issues, providing common ground between discussions and activities of actors working in development and human rights.

Rather than address particular dimensions of development, such as health, safety, or employment, or housing, these guiding principles set out cross-cutting propositions that apply to all phases of development activities and advocacy. Guiding Principles 1 to 4 address fundamental questions about the realities and lived experience of LGBTI people, and they respond to misconceptions and stereotypes that are often used to exclude LGBTI people from development activities. Principles 5 to 8 address the role of LGBTI communities and NGOs in development activities, including data and research activities. Principles 9 to 13 address the operations of development agencies and individual development practitioners.

These principles recognize that a wide variety of actors, including governments, corporations, multi-lateral organizations, NGOs, civil society and individuals, all play a role in implementing the 2030 Agenda and other development priorities. These actors engage in policy making, research, advocacy, program design, implementation and evaluation, any myriad other functions collectively referred to herein as “development activities.” Individuals and organizations carrying out development activities, including LGBTI advocates, are referred to as “development practitioners.”

These principles also recognize that each person has a sexual orientation, a gender identity, a gender expression, and sex characteristics. (SOGIESC). However, individuals whose SOGIESC does not conform to the accepted norms of that individual’s society and culture often experience social, legal and cultural marginalization. Such marginalized groups can be identifed by a number of different terms depending on the cultural context. The guiding principles apply to all such groups. The term “LGBTI” is used in this document to identify this population. In the international arena “LGBTI” has become the most widely recognized term to designate this population and serves as an accessible term for those who have become accustomed to it.

View the guidelines.