June 27, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
USAID to designate coordinator for LGBT issues overseas

A top official with the U.S. Agency for International Development announced on Monday a senior coordinator would soon be named to guide the administrative division on LGBT issues overseas.

Donald Steinberg, USAID’s deputy administrator, unveiled plans to create the new position during a panel discussion in which officials discussed ways the State Department was integrating LGBT concerns abroad as part of U.S. foreign policy.

“In order to highlight these concerns, we’re pleased to announce that USAID will shortly name a senior coordinator for sexual orientation and gender identity who will be responsible for advising the USAID administrator on this agenda,” Steinberg said.

USAID is an agency under the State Department charged with fostering the growth of developing countries as well as supporting U.S. foreign policy objectives by promoting global health and democracy abroad.

Steinberg said USAID has integrated “four pillars” as part of its mission to address LGBT issues overseas, including working to enhance the political, social and economic development of LGBT people; ensuring that the LGBT community is part of overseas development; and promoting social and legal equality for LGBT people.

In addition to announcing that a senior official for LGBT issues would soon be named, Steinberg said USAID would create a new policy committee to facilitate the integration of LGBT issues into the agency’s work.

“We’re establishing an agency policy coordinating committee to perform such functions as information and knowledge exchange, consensus building, sharing and documenting of best practices and advising on policy and strategy gaps,” Steinberg said.

The new committee, Steinberg added, would begin with a “landscape analysis” to evaluate where USAID stands with the four pillars he previously described and the agency’s foreign development assistance strategy.

Steinberg offered limited details on the creation of the new position and new committee. USAID didn’t respond in time for this posting to offer more information on the change.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said the creation of a dedicated staff position for LGBT issues is “significant” because USAID has had success with focusing efforts in other areas, such as issues involving the disabled.

“The lessons learned from that effort show the importance of dedicated funding, dedicated planning guidelines and dedicated staff,” Bromley said. “It is important to see that USAID has taken the first step of staffing up this new work to support he rights and development potential of LGBT communities as well.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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