Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Norway's Given How Much to US State Dept's Global Equality Fund?

(Public domain photo.)

At the start of February, I began an effort to make the U.S. State Department's Global Equality Fund (GEF) for gay rights work as transparent as possible. The administrators of it brushed off my attempt at gaining more info than the fund's donors and grant recipients, and how much money is flowing into it and from where.

Fortunately, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is amenable to sharing data and did so with a lengthy response to me regarding their $14 million contribution through Sweden's foreign ministry.

Now, I have a reply from Marna Eide of Norway's leading gay group (LLH) about their engagement with their foreign ministry and the GEF, and her government has donated $91,000 to the fund.

It's terrific to have SIDA and LLH engaging with this gay blogger, and probably other global gay stakeholders, about their campaigns and funding streams. I'd like for our State Department to follow the example of SIDA and LLH and communicate with the gay public.

Let's get to the Q and A between myself and Marna Eide:

1. When did the Norwegian LGBT Organization, LLH, agree to be part of GEF? 

The donation to the GEF is from the Norwegian Government with whom LLH has a strategic partnership. LLH maintains a vast network of contacts with people working for lgbti-rights issues all over the world and advises the Norwegian Government on these issues. During the autumn of 2012 the Norwegian Government asked LLH to function in an advisory capacity and to distribute and monitor the Norwegian contribution to the fund. 

2. How much money have you donated to GEF? 

The total contribution from the Norwegian Government so far is NOK 550 000. [The equivalent of $91,000.]

3. Would it be possible to be provided with a list of projects funded with LLH money via GEF?

Funds from Norway support the emergency response programme, run by Freedom House. (If you need more info on this programme I suggest you get in touch with them directly as I don’t know how much is official for security reasons) 

4. Should other European govts and LGBT NGOs follow your example and join GEF? 

As a general rule LLH urges the Norwegian government to either fund rights based organisations directly or through south based intermediaries when ever possible. LLH does not advise for, nor do we advise against, other European Governments and LGBT NGOs to follow the Norwegian Governments example. If European Governments decide to join the GEF however, we believe that the model the Norwegian Government has chosen secures input and advise from the lgbt NGO sector.

5. Does online transparency exist for GEF, so past and potential donors can easily learn about its work, and follow the money?

The level of transparency for those who have contributed is good. When it comes to online transparency there are security issues to consider. Finding the right balance between maintaining a secure environment for activists and organisations, yet being transparent and accountable, is always a challenge.

6. What key points should USA gays know about GEF and LLH with it? 

That Norway/LLH supports emergency response.

7. How is the Norwegian foreign ministry advocating for LGBT human rights? 

LLH has, and has had, a constructive working relationship the current and past goverment on this rights issue. More information on the Norwegian Goverments advocacy for SOGI rights can be found here: http://www.hrsogi.org.

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