The U.S. Government and Global LGBT Health: Opportunities and Challenges in the Current Era
This is an important and challenging time for addressing the health and human rights of LGBT individuals around the world. While there have been tremendous gains in some countries, there is a rising trend in others to further criminalize same sex behavior and/or discriminate against LGBT people, activities which have been shown to have an adverse effect on health. The U.S. government has already begun to enhance its focus on LGBT rights and health through its foreign policy work, and to address recent cases in some countries, yet these efforts are nascent and most are not health-specific. Participants in two roundtables convened by the Kaiser Family Foundation felt that more could be done in both the short and long term. Key aspects of any response should include a guiding principle of “do no harm” to LGBT individuals; the continuation of U.S. supported health services; a focus on public health outcomes and program effectiveness; and a recognition of the specific context of countries where the U.S. supports health programs. Beyond identifying opportunities for addressing the immediate needs of LGBT individuals in countries where they may face harm, there are also opportunities for the U.S. to further enhance its efforts to address the health needs – in addition to the human rights – of LGBT individuals, and to build the capacity of civil society organizations on LGBT health.