• Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

Group of people at Pride Month paradeDuring the Carr Center’s 25th anniversary year, we’re looking back at the past two-and-a-half decades of human rights policy and training at the Center. Since its founding in 1999, the Carr Center at the Harvard Kennedy School has been a leading research center that has focused on some of the most intractable challenges facing the world. Throughout these 25 years, the Carr Center has increasingly focused on the rights of LGBTQI+ communities and the challenges that they face around the world. Read more about our work in LGBTQI+ human rights below.

New Program at Carr: Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program

Most recently, the Carr Center launched the new Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program to address the critical crossroads we stand at for the global LGBTQI+ community. In a troubling global trend, numerous countries are intensifying their oppressive measures against LGBTQI+ communities, pushing these groups into their most vulnerable period in recent history. 

Global LBGTQI+ Human Rights Program logoThe mission of the program is to empower movement leaders through transformative trainings, developing high-impact research, and establishing platforms for influential dialogue. Led by Mathias Risse, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, and Diego Garcia Blum, the program leadership envisions establishing the Carr Center as a key international nexus for LGBTQI+ human rights policy, training, ideas, and dialogue that will amplify the impact of activism on the ground.

Read more about the launch of the Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program.

Pathways to Progress: Hope for the LGBTQI Community in a Changing World

In a virtual conversation at the start of Pride Month, the Carr Center was joined by Erin Reed, LGBTQI and transgender journalist and activist and author of Erin in the Morning, and Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Faculty Program Chair of the Carr Center’s Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program. Moderated by Diego Garcia Blum, the Program Director of the Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program, the panel explored the current challenges facing worldwide LGBTQI+ communities, as well as their hope for the future and the promise of progress that we already see in younger generations.

2023 International LGBTQI+ Activism Summit

The 2023 International LGBTQI+ Activism Summit, co-sponsored by the Carr Center and the Center for Public Leadership, was a groundbreaking event that brought together nine global activists dedicated to expanding LGBTQI+ rights in challenging and dangerous contexts and provided a unique opportunity for these courageous individuals to receive training and engage with Harvard faculty members and fellows. Activists present at the event joined from countries including Ethiopia, Malaysia, Lebanon, and elsewhere to receive training on how to become more informed and innovative leaders in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights in their home countries.

Read more about the 2023 International LGBTQI+ Activism Summit here.

Applications openApplications are now open to apply for the 2024 International LGBTQI+ Activism Summit and Online Advocacy Training Program. The in-person Summit will take place from October 8–10, and the online training program will take place between September 2024 and May 2025. Click here to learn more about the 2024 programs and apply.

The Justice Matters Podcast

The Carr Center’s Justice Matters podcast confronts, challenges, and explores human rights issues around the world, bringing in a diverse group of guests from the field of human rights policy to explore human rights matters through a multidisciplinary lens. Throughout its more than seven years on the air, the podcast has explored LGBTQI+ rights and challenges with several guests, representing communities and activists from around the world.

Reversing the Global Backlash Against LGBTQI+ Rights with Diego Garcia Blum

Diego Garcia Blum on Justice MattersDiego Garcia Blum, Program Director of the Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program at the Carr Center, joined the Justice Matters podcast to discuss his work, which is dedicated to advocating for the safety and acceptance of LGBTQI+ individuals globally, particularly in regions where they face significant risks. He explores the state of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation around the world, the backlash against this population globally, and what the Carr Center is doing to make a difference.

Defending Human Rights in Uganda with Nicholas Opiyo

Nicholas Opiyo on Justice MattersHuman rights defenders are increasingly the targets of repression by states and private organizations—which results in closing civic space, deteriorating human rights, and democratic deficits. Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan human rights lawyer and former Carr Center Fellow, joined the Justice Matters podcast to talk about campaigning for civil rights and political freedoms in Uganda, the clampdown on freedoms of speech and press, and the rights of LGBTQI+ communities in the country.

Language and Power in the Fight for Human Rights with Timothy Patrick McCarthy

Timothy Patrick McCarthy on Justice MattersTimothy Patrick McCarthy, Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Faculty Program Chair of the Carr Center’s new Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program, joined the Justice Matters podcast to discuss the intersection of communication, power, and stories in the fight for human rights, and explores the work of and the dangers that LGBTQI+ activists face around the world.

Systemic Discrimination and the LGBTQ+ Community with Victor Madrigal–Borloz

Victor Madrigal BorlozVictor Madrigal-Borloz, formerly the UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and current Lecturer on Law at the Harvard Law School, joined the Justice Matters podcast to discuss the ramifications of systemic discrimination against LGBTQI+ communities.

Making a Movement: The History and Future of Human Rights

The Carr Center’s Making a Movement: The History and Future of Human Rights publication celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 2023, delving into the past, present, and future of the human rights movement via themes of racial justice, transitional justice, economic equality, LGBTQI+ rights, climate change, and more. In one of the 90 essays from Harvard faculty, fellows, and affiliates, Diego Garcia Blum discussed the progress over the past two decades in the LGBTQI+ rights movement and the challenges that we continue to face.

Diego Garcia Blum in Making a Movement“Over the past two decades, notable progress has been made in LGBTQ human rights in North America, Western Europe, and some parts of Latin America. However, even in these places, there are still gaps in discrimination protections, ongoing disparities in the well-being of LGBTQ youth, and active movements opposing these rights—especially for transgender people. Unfortunately, progress in these regions has also sparked a backlash in places where LGBTQ acceptance is scarce and often criminalized,” writes Garcia Blum.

Read the full excerpt of Diego Garcia Blum’s essay here.

Human Rights Defenders

The Carr Center’s human rights defenders seek to protect and promote the rights of vulnerable and marginalized communities in the face of state or corporate repression. Women, indigenous, ethnic minority, and LGBTQI human rights defenders are particularly vulnerable.

Nicholas OpiyoNicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan human rights lawyer, joined the Carr Center as a Human Rights Defender and Scholar at Risk in 2021-2022. He is known for campaigning for civil rights and political freedoms in Uganda, specifically electoral law, the restriction of freedom of assembly, and the rights of LGBTQI+ communities.


Advancing Global LBGTQI+ Human Rights: In Conversation with Diego Garcia Blum

We sat down with Diego Garcia Blum, Program Director of the Carr Center’s Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program, to learn more about his journey into the field of LGBTQI+ human rights, the goals of the new program, and the current human rights challenges that the LGBTQI+ global community faces.

“Even in places that have changed a lot in the past 20 years, like the United States and Latin America, there is still a lot of societal persecution, especially for transgender people. Worldwide, the combination of state, societal, and even family violence is terrible and violates essential human rights, including the right to life,” said Garcia Blum.

Read the full interview with Diego Garcia Blum here.