American Jewish World Service Lauds the U.S. Agency for International Development for Banning Discrimination in International Aid Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

AJWS President and CEO Robert Bank Urges Administration to Extend Full Non-Discrimination Clauses in Contracting, Grantmaking and Procurement Policies to Other Agencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, applauds the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Administrator Gayle Smith for ensuring that LGBT people will have equal access to services and aid delivered by contractors and sub-contractors of USAID that work internationally. This policy, announced today in a speech by National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice at American University in Washington, D.C., provides critical nondiscrimination protections ensuring that LGBT people can fully benefit from global development programs and efforts of the United States.

Statement of Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS:

“We applaud the Obama administration for taking a bold and principled stand to ensure that American foreign aid dollars cannot be used to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service. “As an organization that supports advocacy efforts for the human rights for LGBT communities in 13 developing countries and provides disaster relief alongside USAID, AJWS understand how badly this new non-discrimination policy is needed. Too often, we have witnessed how LGBT people are cut off from aid because of discrimination by USAID contractors and international aid organizations. We believe that foreign aid must be delivered fairly and justly to all in need, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“Crucially, USAID’s new anti-discrimination policy provides a strong model for the more than 20 executive agencies of the federal government that distribute foreign assistance dollars,” Bank said. “We urge the President and the Obama Administration to build on this new non-discrimination policy and require all aid agencies to adopt full non-discrimination clauses in their contracting, grantmaking and procurement policies. These policies should apply both nationally and internationally, pertain to agency contractors and grantees, and strive to prohibit both discrimination against LGBT people in the provision of services as well as employment. USAID’s new non-discrimination policy in contracting services brings us one step closer to using the power of U.S. government and its funds to pursue international development as inclusively as possible.”


The new requirement announced today expands existing non-discrimination policies by explicitly including sexual orientation and gender identity as “protected classes.” Practically, this means that USAID contractors cannot deny LGBT people access to U.S.-funded services or aid. This is crucial because USAID contractors expend over $1 billion in U.S. funds to conduct critical work to reduce hunger, curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and provide emergency relief in the wake of disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This revised language will ensure that LGBT people, who have specific needs, including obtaining health care, housing and education, pursuing livelihoods and stopping gender-based violence, cannot be denied access to necessary services and support if those services are carried by USAID contractors.

This revised policy reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to equal rights, part of fully implementing the 2011 Presidential Memorandum on LGBT Rights, which outlined President Obama’s plan to combat violence and hatred against LGBT people worldwide.


About AJWS’s LGBT Work

In 2016, AJWS provided $998,000 to support the critical work of 50 organizations promoting the rights of LGBT people in the developing world. With this support, AJWS’s grantees are supporting LGBT people to come out, speak out, collaborate and pursue recognition, inclusion, security and equality. AJWS also conducts advocacy targeted at the U.S. government and others to ensure that public policy upholds LGBTI rights through legislation, diplomacy and development.


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