IRI Supports the LGBTQI+ Community Worldwide

  • Savannah Simpson

Pride Month provides a unique opportunity to recognize the advancement of LGBTQI+ inclusion and rights in democracies around the world, as well as political initiatives that elevate these individuals in public spaces. , such as government actors, civil society, media, and political parties.   

IRI works to ensure that the LGBTQI+ community can meaningfully and safely participate in all programming, while also supporting other marginalized groups. Using an intersectional approach, IRI recognizes the lived experiences of this community, which change based on age, sex, gender identity, class, and disability. With this in mind, it is paramount to bridge the gaps and spaces of democratic influence and civil society. For example, IRI’s flagship youth program, Generation Democracy, released a member-written statement to celebrate Pride Month, highlighting the opportunities and challenges faced by LGBTQI+ youth.  

The following are examples of how IRI promotes and supports the political inclusion and livelihood of this network around the world. 


IRI in Bangladesh fosters the development of local networks of civic advocates and has partnered with Bandhu, a civil society organization (CSO) that promotes transgender rights, as well as other LGBTQI+ groups and activists. Through this work, IRI has convened a nationwide committee of local advocates, held capacity building trainings, and led committee members in identifying major neighborhood concerns. IRI supports these efforts by facilitating workshops, identifying community priorities through research, promoting advocacy activities, and creating policy briefs on public needs. In 2020, IRI conducted the largest ever survey of the LBGTQI+ community in Bangladesh. 

Additionally, the Art and Democracy programming provides grants to artists whose work addresses social and political issues. This program has supported groups and activists to produce a book and other visual work on the lives of LGBTQI+ people and a dance performance on transgender rights that was televised nationally. 


IRI efforts in Ghana empower marginalized groups, including women, youth, and people with disabilities, to participate and dismantle barriers to political participation. IRI has supported Ghanaian women party leaders to advocate for increased opportunities and inclusion within their parties, leading to more women taking up leadership positions. Current legislation in Parliament is seen as a threat to the livelihoods of LGBTQI+ individuals. This legislation could have severe implications for IRI’s work supporting the participation and rights of all communities traditionally marginalized from political processes.   


Through a Peer Education Network program in Laos, IRI provided future activists tools to advocate for LGBTQI+ rights effectively and safely. This programming worked alongside government counterparts to explore how youth can promote national development and the inclusion of minority communities in political affairs. Workshops during the programming facilitated strong relationships between IRI and regional CSOs, continuing advocacy for the LGBTQI+ community beyond their participation in IRI programming.  


In recent years, IRI has facilitated a series of focus group conversations in Tunisia, targeting at-risk communities to identify gaps in knowledge and implement the Code of Criminal Procedure within the country. These discussion sequences included Tunisian citizens of various backgrounds—women, youth, members of the LGBTQI+ community, persons with disabilities, lawyers, and activists. Findings from conversations are now informing awareness and accountability campaigns with IRI’s local civil society partners and improving outreach for those mistreated by security forces.  

The strength of a democracy hinges on the equal access to and protection of rights for all citizens. IRI supports the LGBTQI+ community and continues to implement and create advocacy programming worldwide. This month, and every month, is an opportunity to be an ally to minority groups, encouraging their participation in public affairs and recognizing them on the international stage. 

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