April 22, 2015 at 7:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Advocates criticize World Bank during annual meetings

World Bank, gay news, Washington Blade

Ellen Sturtz, left, and Al, a transgender Iraqi man, speak during a protest against the World Bank at Edward R. Murrow Park in Northwest D.C. on Oct. 11, 2014. LGBT rights advocates remained critical of the global financial institution last week ahead of its annual meetings in the nation’s capital. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

More than 20 advocates from around the world traveled to D.C. last week ahead of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings amid lingering doubts over the global financial institutions’ commitment to LGBT-specific issues.

Activists from Venezuela, Brazil, Nigeria, India, Lebanon, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and other countries met with World Bank representatives to discuss so-called safeguards in development projects that would protect the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups. They also met with Randy Berry, special U.S. envoy to promote global LGBT rights, and representatives of the Human Rights Campaign and the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community while in the nation’s capital.

“I think the presence of our community was strong,” Tamara Adrián, a Venezuelan LGBT rights advocate, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim last April met with 15 LGBT rights advocates from Lebanon, Uganda, Poland, Guyana, Russia, India, Mexico and China during his organization’s annual spring meetings with the International Monetary Fund that also took place in D.C. They also attended a roundtable with 17 World Bank executive directors and board members from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The World Bank in February 2014 postponed a $90 million loan to the Ugandan government in response to President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act into law.

LGBT rights advocates nevertheless continue to criticize the global financial institution over what they perceive is a continued lack of urgency to address issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“President Kim’s ‘selfie honeymoon’ with LGBT activists is over,” Jonas Bagas of TFL Sexuality, a Philippine advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “We now need to see him and the bank fulfilling their mandate.”

Adrián was equally as pessimistic.

“The general feeling is that the safeguards are going to have a diluted text that would not really protect the communities from potential damage,” she said.

Al, a trans Iraqi man, told the Blade last October during a protest outside the World Bank’s annual fall meetings in D.C. that LGBT people in his homeland were “not having any benefit” from the $355.5 million the global financial institution gave Baghdad in the 2014 fiscal year. The ongoing investigation into allegations that Fabrice Houdart, the former president of GLOBE, a group for the World Bank’s LGBT employees, leaked drafts of documents that detailed what BuzzFeed described as human rights and environmental safeguards, also weighed heavily on the advocates who were in D.C. last week.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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