On Human Rights, Homophobia and Donors’ Priorities


On Human Rights, Homophobia and Donors’ Priorities

I had an interesting side conversation last night about donors priorities versus civil society needs. I do agree that sometimes there need to be a better rapprochement between the two so as to reduce the level of corruption, and implementing projects for the sake of pleasing the donor rather than addressing the issues that are at the core of the NGO’s interest.

However, I would like to note a few points on this issue:
1- Mushrooming NGOs and benefit oriented NGOs or the so called “family business NGOs” are there and will always please the donor because they are opportunists and all they think of is the money. I see and work with NGOs everyday that refuse to abide by donors priorities and are still able to make a change in their environment. And they have my respect and the donors’. They are committed to their cause, they are doing their best to find other funding sources. And yes it is a bit more challenging for them, but at the end of the day they are still doing by their mission and cause because they believe in it.

2- I was stricken by the example which a dear (very dear) human rights activist and friend of mine gave me to support his theory on disparity between donors and beneficiaries priorities: “If the donor wants to support LGBT rights, well this not our top priority, we have other more important things to look at…”
Well my dear friend, and my dear civil society colleagues, every Human Rights campaign is a priority for the group that is concerned by it. When every day men, women and transgender people are arrested and put in jail, sexual, physically abused, when they are thrown out of their jobs, bullied by their families and communities, when they suffer from sickness and do not get the proper care, I cannot allow myself to say or even think that their needs are not a Human Rights priority.
Every Human Rights issue is a priority because when we stop believing so, these questions of rights loose the attribution of HUMANITY, of HUMAN and they become a number of random rights that we address by choice or convenience.

For once and for all, when we talk about LGBT rights, about dignity, equality, hope, freedom, justice, we are talking about the rights of the most discriminated against portion of our society. A portion that is often the most creative, compassionate, innovative and brave, but living a double life, hiding from discrimination and bullying. I cannot stop thinking of LGBT rights as a Human Rights priority when there are laws in Lebanon that discriminate against LGBT people and can put them in jail.

Human Rights are universal, there is no such thing as a priority in Human Rights, there is no suchLGBT-Rights-Hillary-Clinton thing as a priority in injustice! The LGBT community is a core part of our Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Near Eastern, Arab, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, Atheist, Deist, Rural, Urban, Nomade communities. I am so done with hearing discriminatory comments on this issue. It is time to mature, grow up and understand that Homophobia is wrong, Homophobia is weak, Homophobia is every indication of contempt, lack of empathy and dismissal of the rights of LGBT people, equally human to every one in humanity.

If the donors are making LGBT rights a priority, it’s because we are blind enough to see and recognize the needs of a discriminated against, disadvantaged and marginalized community…

This is what I believe in — Eliane Fersan

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