Edge Effect assists humanitarian and development organisations to work in genuine partnerships with people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC), aka sexual and gender minorities and intersex people (SGMI), aka LGBTIQ+ people.*
Since 2006 the global human rights field has made leaps and bounds in recognising the human rights of people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and sexual characteristics: from the Yogyakarta Principles, to UNHRC resolutions, to the UN SOGI Independent Expert, to the extensive use of the UPR mechanism to address state obligations However many development actors that claim to be rights-based have not yet operationalised SOGIESC rights within their work, and amongst those that have, there is is still much work to do to move LGBTIQ+ commitments beyond statements of intent or tokenistic moves to add some version of LGBTIQ+ to the end of already long lists of marginalised people. Likewise humanitarian actors that prioritise need (as well as rights) have often overlooked the pre-emergency and post-emergency needs of people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and sexual characteristics. We believe this needs to change.
Edge Effect owes its existence to a sentence in the Disaster Risk Reduction Good Practice Review, that states: “Disaster managers do not, at present, consider the needs and capacities of LGBT people in their disaster planning, or identify them as a specific audience for preparedness advice”. We read this and thought, that’s not good enough. And it’s not only DRR: all development and humanitarian programs should address the rights, needs and strengths of SGMI people.
In addressing this we must take leadership from local communities and organisations, the people most impacted by current invisibility of SOGIESC issues within humanitarian and development programming, and the people with most to gain or lose from engagement with humanitarian and development organisations. Edge Effect acknowledges the limitations and critiques of the international development and humanitarian sectors, and it’s past and present neo-colonial and neo-liberal undercurrents. While understanding that we need to work within this system, we seek to challenge oppression and work toward a world in which people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identify and sex characteristics are not just included, but help transform thinking on what people and society can be
*We tend use SGMI when referring to people and SOGIESC when referring to characteristics of people that attract human rights protections. For a whole variety of reasons we tend not to use variations of LGBTIQ+. All of these framings and acronyms have limitations, that very keen people can read about here …
Why Edge Effect?
Edge Effect is a term from ecology studies, referring to the presence of greater species diversity at the boundaries of different ecosystems. Where – for example – grasslands meet forest there is a crossover area where species from both ecosystems co-exist and that may be more conducive to the life of other species than either ecosystem alone. We like the the idea of mixing things up, and of diverse communities being transformative engines.