Olivia Travel joins coalition of LGBT organizations with USAID

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Olivia.land By Heather Cassell, PQ Monthly Olivia Companies, the lesbian luxury travel company, announced last month that it joined forces with a coalition of government and nonprofit organizations to form a new LGBT Global Development Partnership. “We are thrilled to be a part of this historic partnership with the U.S. government and the four other founding partners, and to once again reinforce our 40-year commitment to the LGBT movement,†says Judy Dlugacz, founder and president of Olivia Travel, in an April 5 release. “Olivia always strives to give back to the community, whether through our Olivia Gives International program, or donations to causes that support LGBT equality.†“We thank USAID for creating this groundbreaking initiative that will impact LGBT people throughout the world,†she adds. The $11 million four-year initiative is a public-private partnership created through a coalition with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute (GLVI), and the Williams Institute. The goal of the partnership is to promote foreign assistance to LGBT equality in “emerging markets and developing countries,†and will focus its work initially in Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala and eventually expand to more countries. The partnership’s goal is to train LGBT individuals to participate more fully in democratic processes, and undertake research on the economic impact of discrimination against LGBT individuals, according to media reports. “We are thrilled to bring our 35 years’ expertise and leadership to this unprecedented partnership,†says J. Bob Alotta, executive director of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. “Together, with each of the partners, we will collectively address some of the most critical human rights issues faced by our communities.†Claire Lucas, senior advisor for public-private partnerships in the Office of Innovation and Development Alliances at USAID agrees. “This partnership leverages the financial resources and skills of each partner to further inclusive development and increase respect for the human rights of LGBT people around the world,â€Â says Claire. “It can be a real game-changer in the advancement of the LGBT human rights.†Around the world, 85 countries and territories criminalize LGBT behavior and seven countries have a death penalty for same-sex sexual activity. Fewer than 50 countries punish anti-gay discrimination in full or in part. In addition, on  December 6, 2011, President Obama issued a Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons that directed “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.†The LGBT Global Development Partnership represents a response to this directive and a continuation of USAID’s long tradition of equality and human rights for all. “Our aim is to unleash the potential of hundreds of millions of people globally who are LGBT to have the freedom and dignity to contribute fully to their families, communities and nations,†says Maura O’Neill, chief innovation officer at USAID. Originally published by Girls That Roam www.girlsthatroam.com/develop. Heather Cassell photo credit ©KarinaMarieDiaz4Heather Cassell is the publisher and editor of Girls That Roam, a new online women’s travel magazine and community. When Heather isn’t on the road or chasing the latest story she’s a writing and publishing consultant and editor, media relations expert and an event planner as president of Whimsy Media in San Francisco. You can reach Heather at heather@whimseymedia.com.