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Across the world, discriminatory laws and social attitudes continue to exclude and marginalise lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and others (LGBT+) on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This puts them at greater risk of violence and of experiencing worse socio-economic outcomes.

The ‘+’ symbol is used to include people whose identities do not fit typical binary notions of male and female, or who decide to identify themselves using other categories to describe their gender identity or their sexuality.

In 2022, the UK was due to host the first global LGBT+ conference, “Safe To Be Me.” However, following the Government’s decision to introduce a ban on conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation but not their gender identity in the 2022 Queen’s speech, many UK charities withdrew from attending. The Government subsequently said it would cancel the conference.

In many countries, the pandemic is likely to have reinforced discrimination and the marginalisation of LGBT+ people. However, a major barrier to assessing the degree to which is the case is the lack of data on the lives of LGBT+ people worldwide (especially in counties where there are restrictions against LGBT+ people). However, there have been news-reports that LGBT+ people have been blamed for the spread of coronavirus and experienced reduced access to health services (including for HIV/AIDS).

Prior to the pandemic, the World Bank estimated that sexual and gender minorities were already likely to be overrepresented among the 40% of the world’s poorest.  

The UK seeks to use its aid spending and diplomatic reach to improve the lives of LGBT+ people globally, with a particular focus on Commonwealth states. Many members of the Commonwealth retain colonial-era legislation that criminalises or discriminates against LGBT+ people: As of July 2021, 35 of the 53 Commonwealth countries had laws that criminalise homosexuality.

The all-party parliamentary group on global LGBT+ rights has called for the UK to commit at least £55 million per annum on LGBT+ inclusion globally—in 2020/21 it committed £5.5 million to targeted international programmes. Note, however, this estimate does not include all projects that had LGBT+ people among their beneficiaries.

Update log

July 2022: Noted cancellation of global LGBT+ conference and added new spending announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in June 2022.

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