Ensuring Inclusion, Safety, and Belonging for LGBTQIA+ Staff and Communities

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic, and “+” (LGBTQIA+) individuals are among those most at-risk of exclusion, discrimination, and violence in societies around the world. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often denied the legal rights, workplace protections, and personal freedoms that would enable them to achieve their full potential. While there has been some progress in securing substantial legal rights and recognition for the LGBTQIA+ community in some countries, the broad acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals remains uneven at best and significant challenges persist. LGBTQIA+ people experience widespread discrimination in both structural and individual ways. Therefore, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) working in the development and humanitarian spheres must consider how their support—or lack thereof—for LGBTQIA+ people relates to the individual, social, and structural barriers to inclusion.

Below are some of the recommendations and resources compiled by our community on the topic of ensuring inclusion, safety, and belonging for LGBTQIA+ staff and communities.


  1. Commit to a “do no harm” approach: Safety is a very real concern for many LGBTQIA+ people. Organizations should work with LGBTQIA+ organizations and activists to understand how their initiatives, projects, or general work environment might be inadvertently endangering LGBTQIA+ people by putting them in situations where they are targeted legally, structurally, and/or socially.
  2. Commit to a “nothing about us without us” approach: Organizations should ensure that a diversity of LGBTQIA+ people are represented when working on any initiative (be it overseas programming or internal organizational policy) that impacts them and maintain an awareness of intersectional identities.
    • Prioritize the needs of LGBTQIA+ people and issues in programming: Implementing organizations must ensure programs of all kinds, but especially gender-specific work, consider the unique implications for LGBTQIA+ people.
    • Set up internal systems to support LGBTQIA+ staff: Organizations must look at the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ staff at the headquarters, program country, and local levels and remedy potential non-inclusive assumptions of gender and sexuality for staff and their families within human resources policies, benefits, data collection, physical office design, and other operations.
  3. Ensure that data collection, monitoring, and evaluation practices are inclusive: NGOs and donors must collect data in ways that allow for LGBTQIA+ individuals to be represented, while also allowing individuals to make their own choices about what they disclose.