Equality Without Borders is an initiative that helps individual donors connect with fully vetted LGBTI equality projects and groups from around the world. There are thousands of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) organizations working at the grassroots, national, regional, and global levels. The needs are vast for LGBTI communities, since individual lives and security depend on organizations to fight for basic human rights and equality protections. In over 80 countries around the world, same-sex sexual acts are penalized by the legal code, either through criminal sanctions or fines. Even if these laws aren’t used to prosecute LGBTI people, they can be used to harass, intimidate, extort, and arrest them. Related laws often repress LGBTI activism, individual displays of identity, or other activities of LGBTI communities. Living with codified discrimination is damaging on various cultural, religious, and psychological levels; however, challenging and changing the laws on the books can be both arduous and dangerous.
“Tides is nimble and creative enough to help us act quickly. We count on our relationships with their staff when we need support. It’s a true partnership, and it’s helped individuals around the world connect and make progress toward global LGBTI equality that wouldn’t be possible without Tides.”
Sean Eldridge, Equality Without Borders
In opposition to these restraints on freedom and expression, Equality Without Borders helps donors support and connect with LGBTI projects and groups via a collective action fund at Tides. Both individual donors and supported organizations are working worldwide to advance human rights and equality protections, together. Historically, philanthropic contributions to these issues have been comparatively limited – particularly in the Global South, where many of EWB’s partner organizations work for justice. EWB seeks to change that.
EWB grew out of a desire of a number of individual donors to collaborate in funding critical work around the globe. In 2016, they formally came together in order to advance LGBTI equality, including relationship recognition, decriminalization, nondiscrimination, and gender identity protections. They started a conversation with Tides about how to offer support in a way that was streamlined for them and straightforward for grantees; they wanted to help their partners do their work, not burden them with administrative tasks. As a collective action fund, EWB and its grantees benefit from customized forms and processes made specifically for them. Tides plays an ongoing role in the governance process, and the fund makes grants to programs around the world.
Additionally, Tides plays a role as a partner in strategy and problem-solving. EWB’s work involves advancing policy reform in an international context, and Tides brings our global expertise to bear on high-level issues; however, we also don’t shy away when swift action is needed on the ground. One EWB grantee in South America, for example, had difficulty receiving grant funds via a wire transfer, due to a paperwork glitch and lack of support from in-country institutions. Tides researched the process, finding that it would take months to finish the transfer through the normal channels, but the grantee needed the funds as soon as possible. Tides located a third-party expedition service and, with the coordination of several organizational departments, worked with entities ranging from FedEx to the California Secretary of State to the grantee’s bank in order to successfully deliver the grant monies.
With Tides as a partner, EWB has pushed for reforms that have truly changed the lives of LGBTI people for the better. EWB has funded organizations and activists resulting in policy victories for marriage equality and decriminalization, as well as strengthening movements across the world. These wins create a vision for the world that the EWB community is pushing for: one of freedom, acceptance, and equal human rights for all.