Global Family Planning Partnership Garners U.S. Support in Rebranding and Promoting LGBTQ Issues

By | August 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 13 (C-Fam) Last year, the global family planning partnership FP2020 limped across the finish line to announce that it was only halfway to its ambitious goal of adding 120 million contraceptive users by the year 2020.  As the partnership prepares to rebrand as FP2030, it is betting heavily on LGBTQ advocacy to maintain relevancy and attract new funding in the next decade.

FP2030 recently held a webinar calling for commitments to support their relaunched partnership.  It began with a cartoon about “Nina” who goes to a clinic for services and is offered contraceptive pills.  The narrator then reveals that “Nina” is in fact transgender and biologically male, and is seeking condoms and an HIV test.

Ellen Starbird, Director of USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, affirmed the U.S.’s commitment to supporting the goals of FP2030 in delivering family planning to women and girls.  “We also recognize that the need for sexual and reproductive services is not limited by gender identity and sexual orientation.”

In a panel about “intersectional” activism, the moderator criticized the term “family planning”—the “FP” in “FP2030”—for evoking “this kind of heteronormative idea of what a family even is.” Another panelist called the term “archaic.”

For a partnership that previously focused on increased contraceptive uptake, the new and intense focus on people who identify as transgender or homosexual is a dramatic shift.  Not only are these populations relatively small, but same-sex sexual behavior does not result in unexpected pregnancy.

However, while demand for contraceptives within this sector may be small, global attention—and funding—for LGBTQ causes is rapidly gaining momentum.  Starbird’s comments referenced the “LGBTI Global Human Rights Initiative” managed by USAID, and during her remarks, the FP2030 virtual event coordinators inserted a text bubble reminding viewers that the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor to family planning.

The current foreign aid bill passed in the U.S. House raises international family planning by $200 million. Under the Biden administration, agencies involved with any foreign assistance have been ordered to “consider the impact of programs…on LGBTQI+ persons” when making funding decisions.

The original FP2020 partnership was launched at a 2012 summit in London by the U.K. government and Melinda Gates.  By the time the eight-year project had reached its halfway point, it was already well short of its projected level of progress.  Its ambitious target of 120 million was framed in terms of access, but measured in terms of use.

While “health experts mainly attribute the failure to meet the FP2020 target to poor budgetary allocations,” less attention was paid to the fact that so-called “unmet need” for family planning methods is only due to lack of access in a tiny percentage of cases.  Far more non-users of contraceptives cite health concerns, side effects, religious objection, or infrequent sexual activity.

Since launching in February, FP2030 has focused more on encouraging its partners to make commitments than setting specific goals of its own.

The first FP2030 commitment to be announced was from MSI, formerly Marie Stopes International, and included “serving at least 120 million women and girls globally with high-quality sexual and reproductive health services by 2030.”  It was accompanied by a footnote stating that “safe abortion and post-abortion care are recognized as critical interventions” under the Every Woman Every Child movement and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health, and MSI’s commitments to FP2030 are being made with this understanding.