ICRW’s Pride

Article Date

08 June 2016

Article Author

Rachel Clement

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Staff, their families and friends and supporters of ICRW are proud to march in this year’s Capital Pride Parade. The Parade and Festival are an all-day celebration in Washington, DC of the full spectrum of gender identity and sexual diversity. ICRW’s participation in the parade is our way of celebrating diversity and supporting continued progress toward gender equality.

Both in Washington, DC, and across the world, sexism, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia continue to be at the root of violence and the denial of resources, services and economic opportunities against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals. On ICRW’s 40th anniversary, we felt that it was important to not only include all women in our research, capacity building efforts and advocacy, but to support and celebrate our local LGBTI community. For too long, there has been a stigma against LGBTI individuals, and ICRW staff and families are happy to celebrate this diverse and important part of our world, and to make it clear that the human rights of all individuals of all sexual orientations or gender identities deserve to be respected and upheld.

Washington, DC’s Capital Pride began in 1975 as a one-day street festival, originally called Gay Pride Day. In 1981, the name was changed to include some women, and became Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. The event has since grown to include a fuller spectrum of the community—and their allies. In the same way that many movements begin with a focus on men, the evolution of Pride itself shows that lesbian, bi and transwomen face unique obstacles and limited visibility. In its first year, 2,000 people attended Pride. In 2015, an estimated 350,000 people attended the parade and festival. Last year’s parade saw an increased diversity of organizations participating, with organizations as varied as the FBI, CIA and Office of the Director of Intelligence represented at booths, and U.S. Armed Forced, the U.S. Coast Guard marching in the parade alongside non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Nature Conservancy.

Recently released research co-authored by ICRW’s Jennifer McCleary-Sills, includes a Brief on Violence Against Sexual and Gender Minority Women. This research sheds light on individuals whose needs and priorities are frequently overlooked in international development theory and practice. This brief highlights the ways in which lesbian, bisexual and transwomen (LBT) are often left out of development and humanitarian work by both the gay rights and feminist movements, leaving LBT women out of critical dialogues that inform programs and policies. Too often, work on women has only represented heterosexual, cisgender women. Work with LGBTI populations has been limited at best, and even that traditionally had a myopic focus on men, and men’s sexual health, leaving LBT women and their unique needs out.  When LBT women aren’t counted, their needs are not addressed and their ability to fully participate in society with lives free from violence is obstructed.

While there is growing support for the rights of LGBTI persons, including unprecedented statements from 12 of the United Nations agencies, the World Bank’s President and other world leaders, the global community still has more work to do to ensure true gender equality and to secure the rights of LGBTI persons. Research has shown that there is an economic cost to homophobia and exclusion, and that LGBTI persons face disproportionate levels of violence throughout their lives. This violence can range from cyberbullying, bullying, harassment, sexual assault and/or “corrective rape” and even murder. Much of this violence and exclusion is reflected in state policies. According to a recent UN Human Rights Report, more than 76 countries have laws that criminalize and/or persecute LGBTI people, including eight that prescribe the death penalty for homosexual acts.

ICRW believes in equality and empowerment for all, inclusive of the full spectrum of gender and sexual diversity and will continue to support those who are marginalized and whose voices are often not heard. We are committed to spending the next forty years to develop the global evidence base with regard to the rights and inclusion of LGBTI people—with a specific and intentional focus on LBT women—in the hopes that that evidence will inform better policies and the protection of rights leading to equality for all people. That’s why we’re marching.