Our International Work

InternationalRFSLPhoto: Eveline Johnsson

With a history that goes back all the way to 1950, RFSL is one of the oldest LGBTIQ organisations in the world. An ever-growing member-based movement, working with a broad program to secure the rights and improve the lives of LGBTIQ persons, RFSL has a proud record of successfully advancing LGBTIQ rights in Sweden.

Recognising the importance of international solidarity and the possibility to advance rights of LGBTIQ persons in cross-national cooperation, RFSL joined the global movement early on. The international work has developed and expanded immensely over the years, the last five marking a new era for us in partnering with LGBTIQ organisations around the world in advocacy, cooperation projects and sub-granting partnerships.

Over the past 50 years, the situation for LGBTIQ people globally has improved in many regions and countries. The trans movement has won legal battles and access to gender reaffirming care and legal gender recognition has improved. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is protected in the legislation of many countries, just as same-sex civil partnerships and marriages.

The intersex movement has vocalised their needs within the LGBTIQ movement, while LGBTIQ people generally are more mobilised and organised in advancing their rights. LGBTIQ people are more visible and issues linked to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics are discussed more openly. At the same time, the situation for LGBTIQ persons is still very concerning in a large number of countries.

Criminalisation of LGBTIQ persons prevails in a large number of countries, through laws that directly or indirectly targets persons who live and love against the societal norms of gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation. LGBTIQ people are met with discrimination and violence in all countries and issues connected to sexual orientation, identity and expression are connected to a high level of stigma. In recent years we have seen that the gains that have been made are threatened due to mobilisation of religiously and politically conservative actors. Continued support to the global LGBTIQ movement is therefore of utmost importance.

As a peer organisation with the possibility to support LGBTIQ organisations around the world RFSL has a unique role to play. This international strategy outlines the directions for RFSL’s international work over the period 2019-2021. It covers the international work that RFSL will do within the framework of Swedish and International Development Co-operation. It does not, however, cover the international work of RFSL as a civil society movement in Sweden.

Some main components of the strategy and work ahead are international trainings for LGBTIQ activists, sub-granting and partnerships with LGBTIQ organisations globally and advocacy within the United Nations. A special focus is given to the advancements of the goals and indicators included in the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030. As a movement RFSL stands by LGBTIQ activists around the world.

RFSL’s International Strategy