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date: 13 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article traces the origins, evolution, and effects of LGBT advocacy by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in global forums. In particular, the article focuses on LGBT advocacy in intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. The first section provides a historical overview and traces the rise of LGBT NGOs—as well as the transnational networks linking them—from the interwar period to the present day. In doing so, this section discusses the strategies that such organizations have leveraged to gain clout and highlights how LGBT issues have gained salience and have generated contestation within UN human rights bodies and mechanisms. The second section provides a conceptual overview of how advocates have advanced LGBT issues and discusses how the frames of sexual and reproductive health rights, public health and HIV/AIDS, and, increasingly, LGBT human rights have been leveraged by NGOs to legitimize and to further propel LGBT advocacy. Finally, the third section discusses some of the challenges facing global LGBT advocacy. In particular, this section highlights North–South power inequalities in shaping and driving a global advocacy agenda and the tensions arising from limited emphasis on non-Western notions of sexual and gender diversity. This section concludes with a discussion of new directions in LGBT advocacy, highlighting in particular the increased efforts to combine human rights advocacy with inclusive development policy.

Keywords: LGBT, human rights, United Nations, nongovernmental organization, sexual orientation, gender identity

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