Updated March 15, 2016: HRC has submitted official comments to the World Bank outlining concerns with the safeguard policies and advocating for changes referenced in the blogpost below. The World Bank is expected to issue a final draft of their new safeguard policies as soon as this summer, after which the Bank's board will consider it for final approval.
This week, HRC participated in consultations with the World Bank to raise concerns over new Bank policies that, if implemented, could affect LGBT people around the globe.
The current draft of the new Bank policies does not make explicit reference to the needs of LGBT people, instead placing them in a broad category of "vulnerable groups" that need specific attention. Additionally, the policies would not require the Bank to protect those "vulnerable populations” and instead simply states that the Bank should take their needs into consideration.
HRC, along with a coalition of other advocacy partners, has urged the Bank for several years to adopt stronger “safeguards” to protect LGBT people who are affected by World Bank projects. When the Bank helps a country to build a dam, open a school or improve an irrigation system, it can have an enormous impact on people in the vicinity of the project.
For example, if a country builds a dam with Bank assistance, forcing residents to be relocated, the Bank should consider LGBT individuals’ safety so they are not relocated to an area that is known for anti-LGBT attacks. When a school is built, the Bank should make sure that the school commits to protecting and supporting LGBTQ youth.
In September, HRC, along with a coalition of groups, wrote a letter to Bank president Dr. Jim Kim, pointing out the Bank’s power. The letter also called on the Bank to conduct LGBT-focused research and to hire full-time LGBT-focused advisers.
“The Bank can play an historic and overdue role in impacting the welfare of LGBT people worldwide, in ways that will redound to the benefit of inclusive, forward-looking economic growth and political stability,” the letter read.
Members of Congress have also weighed in on this issue. In May, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and 14 of his House colleagues wrote a letter to Dr. Kim, urging that the new policies be “strengthened to effectively address discrimination against LGBT people that hinders development and keeps the World Bank from achieving its goals.” Prior to the letter, LGBT activists from around the world traveled to Washington, D.C., to express their concerns about the new policies.
The World Bank is expected to release a final draft of its safeguard policies this summer. LGBT and other human rights activists will continue to urge the Bank to include stronger provisions that will protect vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Bank projects.