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Global LGBTQ funding up but worry as bulk goes to North America

Foundations and governmental agencies gave $524 million to LGBTQ causes in 2015 and 2016 combined, but more than half of the funds went to the U.S. and Canada.

Although funding to support sexual minorities is growing, reaching about $250 million in 2016, three-quarters of the money is going to western countries, advocates said on Wednesday.

More than 500 foundations and governmental agencies gave a total of $524 million to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes in 2015 and 2016 combined, almost a quarter more than in the previous two-year period, researchers found.

But LGBTQ groups received a tiny fraction of international development aid, estimated at about $140 billion in 2016, according to the New York-based Global Philanthropy Project, which is working to boost LGBTQ funding in developing countries.

“Only four cents out of every $100 awarded by governments and multilateral agencies funds LGBTI work,” Matt Beard, executive director at U.S. rights group All Out, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“There also continues to be a worrying imbalance in terms of the geography of global LGBTI funding.”

Despite global gains, many LGBTQ people around the world face persecution. They are often ostracized, abused, assaulted by mobs, raped or enslaved by criminals in conservative countries, where homosexuality is a taboo, advocates say.

More than 70 states criminalize same-sex relationships, with some applying the death penalty, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

“It’s essential for activists and funders (both new and existing) to work closely together to bring about the change we all want to see,” said Bjorn van Roozendaal, programs director for ILGA-Europe.

Most funding goes to Canada and the United States, which received $287 million in 2015 and 2016 combined, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, which received $54 million in the two year period, then western Europe with $38 million, the report said.

The biggest chunk of money -- 57 percent -- was used to address human rights for LGBTQ people, followed by 22 percent for health and wellbeing, the Global Philanthropy Project found.