Government must support LGBTQIA+ human rights defenders, says Australian aid peak

The Australian Council for International Development

Media release | Friday, 17 May 2024 Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), a timely reminder to advocate and take action for LGBTQIA+ rights across the world.

Despite decades of progress on LGBTQIA+ rights in many countries, from decriminalisation to recognition of same-sex marriage, including in Australia, rights have become increasingly under threat in recent years. This comes at a time when democracy around the world is in regression.

In 2024, there are at least 67 countries around the world which have laws that criminalise homosexuality, including new discriminatory legislation in at least three countries this year alone. Sentences for offences vary from fines, prison sentences to the death penalty. “It is dangerous to assume there is steady progress on LGBTQIA+ rights around the world, as we have seen anti-rights movements gain prominence in recent years – and new laws introduced that discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people,” said Dr Alex Edney-Browne, Policy and Government Relations Lead at ACFID.

“Promoting and protecting equal rights of LGBTQIA+ persons must be an international human rights priority for the Australian Government and the wider global community.

“In ACFID’s recent submission to the Australian Government’s LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Engagement Strategy, we called for the Government to increase Australia’s Inclusion and Equality Fund to $15m per annum to support human rights defenders and CSOs working on the frontlines advancing LGBTQIA+ human rights and equality.”

The Inclusion and Equality Fund currently sits at $3.5m per annum, and the Federal Budget released on Tuesday showed no increases to this fund despite rising attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights in our region and beyond.

ACFID have also called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to risk and needs assess support for LGBTQIA+ people in all DFAT-led designs and programs by 2025, and to extend this to partner-led designs and programs by 2027. Read our submission here.


  • The main purpose of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, is to raise awareness of the violence, discrimination and pression of LGBTQIA+ communities worldwide and to promote advocacy and action for the protection of LGBTQIA+ people.

  • The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

  • At WorldPride in Sydney in 2023, Minister Wong announced the new Inclusion and Equality Fund, as well as committing to a dedicated LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Engagement Strategy.

  • The LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Engagement Strategy is currently under development, and expected to be released by DFAT in the second half of this year. ACFID will be watching closely to see whether the Strategy demonstrates adequate ambition.

  • In 2023-2024, new legislation in Uganda, Ghana and Iraq discriminates against LGBTQIA+ people, with harsh penalties for same-sex relationships.

  • Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a Ugandan NGO, has documented 55 arrests under Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act (2023), three death penalty cases forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, 254 evictions of persons accused to be or associated with LGBTQIA+ people and 202 other cases of actual or threatened violence.

/Public Release.