Leave no one behind – except LGBTI people?

Statement on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17 October 2014.

17 October 2014 marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP) designated by the UN General Assembly in 1993 to raise awareness of the need to eradicate poverty everywhere.

This year’s theme, Leave no one behind: think, decide and act together against extreme poverty,” is particularly relevant to the work of Micro Rainbow which focuses on socioeconomic development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide, a population which is often forgotten by poverty reduction initiatives.

Our consultations with local LGBTI NGOs in various countries and our recent report on poverty of LGBT people in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) show that LGBTI people are more likely to become and/or remain poor due to the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination they face on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.

Poverty affects LGBTI people as much as the rest of the community. However, when poverty is combined with multiple forms of discrimination, such as gender, race, class, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, it creates a reality of socioeconomic inequality which disproportionately affects the LGBTI population.

This year’s theme highlights the challenge of including those who are in a situation of poverty in preparing the post-2015 development agenda. This challenge cannot be used as an excuse to exclude LGBTI people in the next development agenda.

Development interventions and poverty reduction strategies have consistently failed to reach LGBTI people. The lack of social and legal recognition of LGBTI people, coupled with exclusionary policies on poverty provide a context that maintains the invisibility and structural marginalization of LGBTI people living in poverty.

On this IDEP we call on governments and relevant institutions to remove the heteronormative assumptions and practices that continue to exclude LGBTI people and their families from their poverty discourses.

Increasing evidence shows that “gay affluence” is a myth and that LGBTI people face poverty as well. They must be part of any policy targeting the eradication of poverty in all the countries of the world.

“Leave no one behind.” Let’s not lose this opportunity to include LGBTI people in the post-2015 development agenda, to tackle the situation of poverty that many of them face, and to partially repair the damages of decades of development policies and initiatives that severely excluded LGBTI people.

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