Argentina joins global LGBT rights initiative

Argentina has become the third Latin American country to join a U.S. initiative that seeks to promote LGBT rights around the world.

The White House on Wednesday said that Argentina “agreed to join the” the Global Equality Fund, a public-private partnership the State Department manages with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The announcement coincided with President Obama’s visit to the South American country.

“The United States and Argentina are committed to supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals,” reads the White House announcement.

Then-Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed a same-sex marriage bill into law in 2010 amid strong opposition from Pope Francis, who was the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Argentina has one of the world’s most comprehensive transgender rights laws under which people can legally change their gender without surgery. The South American country also allows gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

“The news about Argentina’s support of the Global Equality Fund, as part of the cooperative actions between our country and the United States is great news,” LGBT Federation of Argentina Vice President Esteban Paulón told the Washington Blade on Thursday in an email. “It means taking a step in the direction of ‘exporting’ the rights that we have achieved in our country, and cooperating regionally on this issue.”

Uruguay, Chile contribute to initiative

The Global Equality Fund has given more than $17 million to LGBT advocacy groups since its 2011 launch.

Uruguay and Chile joined the initiative last November and 2014 respectively. Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Arcus Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign are among the other countries and organizations that also contribute to the Global Equality Fund.

The White House on Wednesday announced that Argentina supports the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ special rapporteur on LGBT-specific issues. The Obama administration also said the South American country backs a similar body within the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“The support that the country has expressed for the special rapporteur for LGBTI rights in the OAS (Organization of American States) and the creation of a similar body in the United States is a step in the right direction,” Paulón told the Blade.

The Argentine government has not returned the Blade’s requests for comment.

Prominent trans advocate murdered in 2015

Obama’s visit to Argentina comes less than four months after President Mauricio Macri took office.

Diana Sacayán, a prominent trans rights advocate, was found stabbed to death inside her Buenos Aires apartment last October. She was the third trans woman who was reported killed in Argentina in the span of two months.

An appellate court last December ruled the two men who allegedly killed Sacayán can go on trial for her murder.