Most of the programmes and interventions that are mentioned in the literature address LGBTQi rights by ensuring that men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people have access to healthcare that is funded by international aid. The other main conduit of support is to use aid funds to provide financial and technical support to organisations and activists who advocate for LGBTQi rights. However, some LGBTQi organisations lack capacity to apply for funding from international donors (Badgett et al., 2014). In some countries where there is very little or no protection for LGBTQi rights, advocacy organisations tend to support this issue through HIV/AIDS programmes or human rights.
Donor agencies have used international commitments to human rights as an entry point for dialogue on LGBTQi with other governments, in bilateral or multilateral engagement (Sida, n.d., Thiel, 2014). The United Nations (UN) has facilitated dialogue on the issue through its human rights platforms and all UN agencies have commitments to protecting LGBTQi rights in their strategies, policies or action plans. Many UN agencies have engaged in research or dialogue (United Nations, 2019). Some agencies have incorporated sexual orientation and identity into programmes on bullying in schools or HIV in prisons. The Swedish International Development Agency supports LGBTQi rights through its human rights approach to development (Nilsson, Lundholm & Vagberg, 2013).
The following barriers undermine the extent to which international development interventions or programmes can address discrimination against LGBTQi persons (UNDP, 2015, Haste et al., 2016):
- LGBTQi rights are still not viewed as a development priority and because they are controversial in some settings embassies are hesitant to engage with them;
- Limited data and understanding of the various issues that are categorised as LGBTQi curtails the extent to which these issues can be integrated with other development programmes; and
- Prejudice among staff at all levels in development agencies undermines their willingness to engage with LGBTQi rights and issues.