Publications on sexuality and poverty

  • Literature Review on Sexuality and Poverty

    Oosterhoff, P; Waldman, Linda; Olerenshaw, D IDS
    Series paper (IDS), 2014
    This review of the evidence on sexuality and poverty is undertaken by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) as part of a larger Accountable Grant from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). DFID is increasingly interested in understanding issues around sexuality, poverty and human rights, and this interest is particularly focused around LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues. Recently the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group recommended, inter alia, appointing a human rights commissioner to address homosexuality alongside other human rights issues. In 2011, David Cameron suggested that UK aid might be withheld from those governments that retain anti-homosexuality legislation. He has argued that it is necessary for governments to adhere to ‘proper human rights’ reform if they wish to be recipients of UK aid (BBC 2011). The proposal for conditional aid was poorly received in some quarters. The Ghanaian, Ugandan and Malawian governments responded defiantly. They considered it an act of bullying and would rather forego the money than accept these conditions. Activists, journalists and policymakers argued that LGBT persons are not the only ones whose rights are violated. Singling these groups out might cause an anti-gay backlash. Conditionality is often based on outsiders’ assumptions about African sexualities. Some argued that actions to promote the rights of LGBT persons should be placed within a broader human rights perspective, recognise the role of African civil society groups and show an awareness of the historical fact that many of these discriminatory laws are actually a legacy of British colonial rule (AMSHeR 2011). This review contributes to the larger Sexuality, Poverty and Law Theme of the Accountable Grant, which aims to produce evidence-based, practical options for activists and policymakers for strengthening legal protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, questioning people and for sexual rights more generally. This theme focuses on understanding the links between sexuality and poverty with the aim of improving economic policy and programming to support people marginalised because of their sexuality.
  • Sexuality and Poverty Synthesis Report

    Hawkins, Katy; Wood, Stephen; Charles, Tanya; He, Xiaopei; Li, Zhen; Lim, Anne; Mountian, Ilana; Sharma, Jaya IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2014
    This report synthesises learning from these audits and is part of a larger project that focuses on understanding the links between sexuality, gender plurality and poverty with the aim of improving socioeconomic policy and programming to support people marginalised because of their sexuality. The project was instigated as a result of earlier research by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Sexuality and Development Programme and partners. This research indicated that sexuality is directly related to physical, social and economic wellbeing, political participation and socioeconomic inclusion and the realisation of human rights, particularly for the poor and most marginalised (Jolly 2006; Armas 2007; Jolly 2010). The sexuality and poverty audits which were conducted for this project purposely set out to interrogate sites of development policy that were not explicitly linked to sexuality.
  • Living on the Periphery: The Khawaja Siras of Pakistan

    Majeedullah, A IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2016
    Academic literature suggests that development is inherently heteronormative in its narratives, policies and practices: as a result, ‘heterosexuality is normalized, naturalized, and privileged in societies of the global South, in the international development field, and in colonial and post/neo-colonial narratives of the so-called Third World or global South’ (Lind 2010: 7). Thus, people with non-conforming gender and sexual identities living in poverty are rendered invisible in development. In an attempt to counter this invisibility, this report investigates the experiences of exclusion encountered by Khawaja Siras, a gender and sexual minority in Pakistan. It also investigates the role of a gender identity-based programme in bringing about changes in their experience of exclusion.
  • ‘Leave No One Behind’: Gender, Sexuality and the Sustainable Development Goals

    Mills, Elizabeth IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    In an unprecedented move to eradicate disease, poverty and hunger, world leaders joined together in 2000 to sign into life the hotly contested but broadly agreed upon Millennium Development Goal (MDG) framework. In 2015, as the MDGs come to an end, a new generation of world leaders – government officials, donors and civil society organisations – have joined forces to articulate their vision for a future where all people can contribute to, and benefit from, an inclusive development framework. Across the documents and consultations, these leaders have emphasised a central message: ‘leave no one behind’. If the global commitment to eradicate inequality for all people is truly unequivocal, as leaders claim it to be, the implementation of these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs to take into account the voices of those people who, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression (SOGIE), have historically been excluded from the benefits of development policies and programmes. The findings in this report are based on a comprehensive review of empirical literature on sexuality, gender and development, including primary research conducted on the Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme. In mapping these findings against the brand new SDG framework, the report highlights the importance of SOGIE-inclusive development in the post-2015 era. It argues that unless deliberate steps are taken by development actors at an international and national level, billions of people will be excluded from the benefits of international development because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Sexuality, Development and Non-conforming Desire in the Arab World: The Case of Lebanon and Egypt

    Mohamed, M.S IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    [W]e have a lot of problems here – torture, violations against street children, we are full of problems… To come in and talk about gays and lesbians, it is nice, but it’s not the major issue. It’s like I’m starving and you ask me what kind of cola I want. Well, I want to eat first. Then we can talk about cola! It’s a luxury to talk about gay rights in Egypt. (Negad El Borai, in an interview with Azimi 2006) In many developing countries, sexual rights are commonly depicted as trivial concerns pertaining to wealthy citizens of a ‘developed’ Western world. The ‘developing’ world is often thought to have more pressing problems to deal with, such as poverty, violence and corruption. As the prominent Egyptian attorney and human rights activist, Negad El Borai, pointed out in the preceding statement, it is ‘nice’ to talk about gay and lesbian rights in Egypt, but the matter is ranked low in a hierarchy of critical human rights issues. Indeed, it is sometimes not considered to be a human rights issue at all. While it is important, when analysing Borai’s statement, to consider his precarious position as a human rights activist in what was, at the time, a long-standing dictatorship, such skeletal/unfamiliar representations of sexual rights risk obscuring the gradually emerging links between sexual rights and other aspects of human development. In his statement, Borai does not reject the pertinence or question the efficacy of a ‘globalized narrative on sexual identity’ in Egypt (Cornwall 2014: 427) – something we discuss in the report. Rather, he attempts to play down the gravity of the Egyptian state’s acts against ‘sexual perversion’ by dissociating it from other ‘major issues’ in the country. Providing an alternative perspective on the matter, Armas (2007) elaborates on the links between sexual rights and development by examining the relationships between sexual rights and the right to health (mental and physical), education, political participation, work, and migration. He argues that their interdependence is testament to their indivisibility as basic human rights. Subscribing to the latter perspective, this report focuses on the rights of sexual and gender nonconformists in Egypt and Lebanon. It explores the somewhat similar social attitudes towards sexual and gender nonconformity and follows the divergent trajectories of both countries with regards to sexual rights activism. The report attributes this divergence to differences in socio-political conditions in each country that have allowed for the development of a somewhat organised, selectively functional sexual rights movement in one context, while encouraging the open oppression of almost all forms of sexual dissent in another.
  • Sexuality, Poverty and Politics in Rwanda

    Haste, P; Gatete, T.K IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    Recent legislative developments in Africa have focused international attention on the legal status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the continent. Attempts by various African governments to revise or introduce new legislation on same-sex sexual conduct and marriage, and the response of the international community, has sparked extensive coverage of the associated political, social and cultural controversies. Away from the headlines are several African countries that have never criminalised same-sex sexual conduct and that are outliers to the apparent ‘trend’ of homophobia and of discriminatory legislation in the continent. One of these is Rwanda. Compared with the situation in neighbouring countries, state-sponsored homophobia appears negligible in Rwanda, and violent attacks are minimal. Despite negative reports of Rwanda’s human rights record in areas such as civil and political rights, when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, human rights observers consistently report that there is no need for concern. In the international arena, Rwanda has emerged as an unlikely champion for LGBT rights, and domestically has designated sexual orientation as a ‘private matter’. This study explores Rwanda’s relatively progressive position on LGBT-related issues and its implications for Rwandan civil society. It examines the strategies employed by national as well as international actors to advance LGBT rights and to address social and economic marginalisation.
  • BOOSHTEE! Survival and Resilience in Ethiopia

    Overs, C IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    Although homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia, same-sex behaviour is not prosecuted because the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia views homosexuality as a low law enforcement priority. While this may suggest at first glance that the situation for same-sex attracted men is better in Ethiopia than in other countries that retain laws against homosexuality, in reality the illegality of same-sex relations functions throughout Ethiopian society to drive and justify social and economic exclusion and human rights abuses of samesex attracted people. There is a powerful synergy between church and state and sections of the church are occupied with promulgating extreme homophobia by associating homosexuality with taboo superstition, undesirable foreign influence, child abuse and prostitution. Moreover, Ethiopia’s strong economic growth and geopolitical situation has limited the influence of other countries, donors and agencies in respect of human rights and economic or social policy in the country.
  • Same-Sex Sexualities, Gender Variance, Economy and Livelihood in Nepal: Exclusions, Subjectivity and Development

    Coyle, D; Boyce, P IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    This case study explores the relationship between socioeconomic opportunity and exclusion in relation to minority gender and sexualities in Nepal. The study, a component of a wider programme on Sexuality, Poverty and Law supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) and undertaken at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), aims to advance empirically grounded insights and recommendations to address the socioeconomic conditions of sexuality and gender minority peoples, in respect of varied aspects of life experience, subjectivity, self-identity and livelihood. Based on fieldwork conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal, between November 2013 and June 2014 the case study recounts experiences of socioeconomic marginalisation and opportunity as encountered and created by people who experience themselves as being different from socially normative conventions of sexuality and gender; in respect of the present research this has specifically entailed focusing on the experiences of transgender people and people who practise same-sex sexualities (and in respect of an understanding that such genders and sexualities are experienced differently by different people and do not represent uniform or singular categorisations). Many of the people who participated in the research evidence a multifaceted array of livelihood strategies as being connected to sexuality and gender difference. Some of these strategies were found to have been taken forward in the context of community-based support projects (for example, associated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for sexual and gender minorities) while others were conceived as independent life choices, or experienced as arising out of lack of choice or economic opportunity. In each of these often interconnected circumstances, the relationship between sexuality, gender, economy and livelihood emerges as complex and ambivalent.
  • How Filipino LBTs Cope with Economic Disadvantage

    GALANG Philippines, Inc IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    After decades as the so-called ‘sick man of Asia’, the Philippines has adopted the export-driven model of economic development followed by wealthier Asian countries (Makabenta 2014) and has begun to address the pervasive corruption that has perennially deterred investment. With the Aquino administration’s prosecution of high-profile cases of corruption and implementation of various tax reform measures, the country’s credit rating has improved tremendously, attracting the attention of investors. Unfortunately, this economic growth has not trickled down to the millions of Filipinos living in poverty and nor has it resulted in job creation. It is in the slums of Metro Manila, far from the buzzing finance district, where GALANG Philippines’ constituency of lesbians, bisexual women and trans men (LBTs) struggle against oppressive poverty in the face of the additional burdens of social ostracisation and bigotry. ‘Galang’ is the Filipino word for respect. GALANG is also the name of a duly acclaimed feminist human rights organisation that works with economically marginalised LBTs in the Philippines. In this case study, GALANG seeks to identify strategies in which Filipino LBTs cope with workplace discrimination and the severe lack of gainful employment opportunities in the country. GALANG argues that Filipino LBTs are more likely to be tolerated by their respective families when they make a substantial financial contribution. Because SOGIE-based biases make finding gainful employment especially challenging for sexual minorities, many LBTs have turned to creative livelihood sources to empower themselves economically and contribute to family coffers in order to gain acceptance. Additionally, this case study examines the motivations, aspirations and personal lives of LBT Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong. It tackles the links between and among financial independence, economic empowerment, family acceptance, migration and sexuality, specifically in the context of Filipino LBTs. Homosexuality and lesbianism are often described as ‘social costs’ of migration. This research goes against the grain of this argument. It seeks to illustrate how financial independence sets the stage for lesbians to better come to terms with their sexuality.
  • Livelihood, Exclusion and Opportunity: Socioeconomic Welfare among Gender and Sexuality Non-normative People in India

    Dhall, P; Boyce, P IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2015
    In 2014, its 67th year as a sovereign country with a population of 1.21 billion (Government of India 2011a), India is the second most populous country in the world, the most populous democracy and has the longest written constitution among all sovereign countries. Its gross domestic product (GDP) is ranked tenth in the world (out of 184 countries) when measured through current prices (2014) and third on the basis of purchasing power parity (IMF 2014). In 1990, just before India embarked on an unprecedented economic liberalisation, the ranking by current prices was eleventh but by purchasing power parity it was ninth, indicating a significant jump forward in a 25-year period. Commensurate with the GDP growth (from around 5.5 per cent in the early 1990s to a peak of 10.3 per cent in 2010) (World Bank 2014), in spite of differences in poverty measurement between the Government of India, World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, it is widely believed that there was significant reduction in poverty and that the government’s emphasis on economic growth was responsible for this (Aiyar 2011). Against this background, this case study explores the socioeconomic experiences of gender and sexuality minority peoples in India, especially in respect of ways in which sexual and gender ‘difference’ may be correlated to economic hardship and restricted opportunities for livelihood in the context of Indian socioeconomic ‘modernity’. Growth of economic opportunity through neoliberal models of economic expansion is typically achieved via the extension of economic opportunity for some people amidst the endurance of ongoing socioeconomic precarity for most others. In this report we consider these issues in the context of livelihood, poverty, economic opportunity and restraint in the lives of gender and sexuality non-conforming people in India, with a specific focus on the eastern Indian states of Odisha and Manipur. These sites were chosen because in the last five years they have been among the states that have witnessed a number of community, government, non-governmental organisation and donor-backed initiatives undertaken on economic inclusion for people with non-normative genders and sexualities.
  • Policy Audit: Sexuality and Disability in Policies Affecting Chinese People with Disabilities

    Li, Z; Xiaopei, H IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2014
    This policy audit examines the cultural, political and economic spheres in China from the perspective of people with disabilities. Through a series of case studies we argue that the heteronormative assumptions that underpin disability policies do not recognise the sexual desires and sexual needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, laws, families and society at large treat sexual behaviours among people with disabilities as abnormal, and the disabled as people who need to be arrested, invisible and even criminalised. Not only do the current laws and regulations fail to recognise people with disabilities as sexual beings and as having sexual needs, they also give power to guardians to have complete authority to control the sexuality of people with disabilities, all in the name of care, responsibility and law. These omissions in law result in lack of sex education, services and opportunities for people with disabilities, and leave little space for them to fulfil their sexual needs and desires, but too many chances to get infected with sexually transmitted diseases and/or HIV, and experience sexual frustration and devastation.
  • Research Methods and Visualisation Tools for Online LGBT Communities

    Oosterhoff, P IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2014
    Field research among geographically dispersed communities is time-consuming and costly. When people are stigmatised, field research has additional ethical and logistical problems. In many countries lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are both geographically dispersed and stigmatised. Online research methods and tools are therefore particularly interesting instruments for researchers and activists who work with LGBT communities. In countries where same-sex relations are criminal, such as in the Middle East and North Africa region, online communities can be the only way for LGBT people to relate to peers (ILGA 2014). Even in countries where access to social media and publishing on the internet is legally restricted, LGBT people have large online communities (Oosterhoff, Hoang and Quach 2014). This methodology brief outlines the main steps and considerations for choosing research methods and data visualisation among LGBT individuals in resource-poor settings. Although this report focuses on LGBT, online data collection and data visualisation have broader relevance for thinktanks, whose targeted audiences increasingly function in complex digital environments.
  • Sex Workers, Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation in Ethiopia

    Overs, C IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2014
    This case study explores economic, legal and social issues that affect sex workers, with a particular focus on the role of poverty in sex workers’ lives and the potential for poverty alleviation policies and programmes to help lift as many sex workers as possible out of poverty in order to reduce the exploitation, illness and violence associated with their work. In surveys, sex workers overwhelmingly indicate they would like another occupation, particularly in very poor countries. This has been taken to mean that relieving the poverty of individual sex workers will lead them to stop or reduce sex work. On this analysis, reduced poverty will mean that the number of women entering the sex industry, or staying in it, will be reduced and/or that the harm associated with sex work would be diminished because the numbers of partners or of unprotected sexual contacts would reduce. However, the validity of this logic and the benefits, costs and consequences (intended and unintended) of poverty alleviation in the context of sex work have not been tested or even well documented.
  • A Critical Analysis of Public Policies on Education and LGBT Rights in Brazil

    Mountian, I IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2014
    This audit analyses key aspects of public policies in education and sexuality in Brazil, which have been designed as part of the wider programme Brazil Without Homophobia (BWH – Programa Brasil sem Homofobia), launched in 2004. Tackling homophobia and its cultural and social effects has been highlighted by a number of authors as an important policy strategy. This is because it contributes to the elimination of discrimination and exclusion experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) people and curtails the negative effects of homophobia on poverty levels and on people’s access to basic needs (SIDA and Jolly 2010; Armas 2007). This report presents an analysis of public education policies and considers where these policies intersect with programmes aimed at preventing and reducing discrimination and violence against LGBT people. The first part of the report details the current Brazilian social context focusing on: levels of inequality and poverty; educational indicators; data on homophobic violence; and an assessment of dogmatic religious discourses that are increasingly affecting policymaking and implementation in areas pertaining to sexuality. The report then considers the intersection of education policies with sexuality, and examines this intersection in relation to national policy measures aimed at tackling homophobia.
  • Policy Audit: A heteronormativity audit of RMSA -a higher education programme in Indian schools

    Nirantar IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2013
    How do sexual and gender norms affect school education in India? How do schools construct these norms? Are state policies and programmes addressing the linkages between sexuality, gender and school education? These are some of the questions that Nirantar, a Centre for Gender and Education, has been engaging with as part of its mandate to ensure that education is empowering for those marginalised because of gender, caste, sexuality and other dimensions of power. This report shares the findings of a sexuality and gender audit of a national1 government programme to strengthen secondary school education in India (ie the last four years of schooling). The programme is titled the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), a scheme for universalisation of access to and improvement of quality at the secondary stage.2 Since universalisation of elementary education has become a constitutional mandate,3 the goal of the RMSA scheme is to achieve universal secondary education. Its vision is to make quality education available and affordable to all young persons aged 14–18. RMSA aims to enhance access, quality and equity as they relate to secondary education, with a focus on marginalised young people such as girls, Dalits,4 Muslims and those who have disabilities.This report contributes to a new and emerging area of knowledge – and demonstrates how development policy and programme audits through the lens of sexuality and gender can be undertaken. This is an important and challenging area because, as we see in the case of RMSA, development policies and programmes tend not even to mention the word ‘sexuality’, while being replete with constructions of sexuality and with implicit or explicit messages about the need to be disciplined and to control one's desires. Such messages conflict with ground-level realities and have grave implications for the lives of those who are seen to break sexual and gender norms.
  • 'Marriage Above All Else': The Push for Heterosexual, Nuclear Families in the Making of South Africa's White Paper on Families

    Charles, Tanya IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2013
    This report comments on the policymaking processes that led to the development of the White Paper on Families as it exists in its current iteration (November 2013). The report highlights the power dynamics that have led to the inclusion and exclusion of specific content and language, particularly around the notion of what constitutes a family in contemporary South Africa. It considers the diverse roles played in the drafting of this document by civil society representatives, government representatives and the general public. On the basis of interviews with these actors and a close reading of the white paper, this report points to two worrying trends in the making of policies and laws in South Africa: (1) public policy in South Africa is becoming increasingly conservative as a result of religious and cultural doctrines which do not recognise sexual diversity or support the engendering of human rights in society; (2) the South African government and its representatives are promoting a heteronormative value system in its policy and programming, despite resistance from civil society. Most significantly, this paper illustrates that the cabinet’s approval of this policy could mean that access to resources will be determined by the extent to which one’s family fits the narrow, heterosexist definition of a family being promoted in the white paper.
  • Policy Audit: Social Protection Policies and Urban Poor LBTs in the Philippines

    Lim, Anne Marie; Jordan, Charisse M.; Tangente, Mary Gyknell C. IDS
    IDS Evidence Report, 2013
    LGBT discourses worldwide have tended to focus on marriage equality at the expense of other equally pressing but sometimes ‘less sexy’ concerns such as gender-based discrimination and violence, and poverty among sexual minorities. GALANG’s work with lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBTs) living in urban slums indicates that while marriage is of course an important issue, it is hardly foremost in the minds of many Filipino LBTs who are systematically deprived of decent jobs, humane housing conditions, and adequate health care. Today, although Philippine law does not criminalise consensual same-sex acts and the principles of equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in the Constitution, homosexuality is policed by various social institutions, including the nuclear family and the Roman Catholic Church, which often eschew any sexual behaviour that takes place outside the context of marriage and family life. This policy audit seeks to: (1) identify and analyse the sexuality content of the selected social protection policies; (2) voice the concerns and experiences of LBTs living in GALANG’s partner urban poor communities in Quezon City; (3) share and communicate the findings of this audit with an eye towards influencing the conduct of donors and national and sub-national decision-makers, including mainstream activist organisations focusing on sexuality, social justice and feminism; (4) draw cross-cutting policy lessons that can inform future advocacy and policy development; and (5) stimulate others to replicate this analysis in their own settings.