Over £25,000 raised for LGBT+ non-profits in the heart of the City

London’s first live crowdfunding event supporting LGBT+ specific non-profits has raised over £25,000 for four innovative organisations.

City for LGBT+ was hosted at Macquarie’s London offices this week and was organised by TFN in collaboration with Consortium and Give Out.

The fundraising event began with a fireside chat with Lord Browne, former Chief Executive of BP and influential advocate of LGBT+ rights, in advance of the publication of his book ‘Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilisation’.

Addressing an audience of around 50 on Tuesday night, Browne spoke of the need for businesses to adopt policies of LGBT+ inclusion and the crucial role of employers in addressing bigotry at work.

‘Performance is improved by consistent team alignment and inclusion,’ he said. ‘Without it, it weakens the level of engagement.’

Speaking in the wake of the Birmingham protests around LGBT+ relationship education, he quoted Lord Justice Adrian Fulford: ‘Constant vigilance is always needed.’

Four non-profit organisations were each given six minutes to tell the audience about the change they want to make and how they would use money pledged in a crowd-funding exercise.

Megan Keys spoke first on behalf of Gendered Intelligence, an organisation aiming to increase understanding of gender diversity and improve the lives of trans people across the UK. Gendered Intelligence provides one-to-one mentoring for trans and transitioning young people all over the country as well as training in gender diversity awareness.

Megan Keys addresses the audience at The Funding Network event (David Coles)

Megan, who transitioned at 35, told the audience how a lack of this awareness only builds a ‘toxic, damaging and life-threatening environment which leads to lifelong challenges’. Gendered Intelligence hopes to help 500 young people a year to feel proud of their identity.

Next the audience heard from New Family Social, an organisation working to promote LGBT+ adoption and fostering. As a parent of an adopted child herself, Tor Docherty spoke of the 83,000 children in the care system and 2,500 waiting for adoption.

In 2007, 1 in 36 adoptions were made by LGBT+ parents. In 2019 this had risen to 1 in 8 adoptions. Through local events and an annual summer camp, New Family Social hopes to encourage LGBT+ people to continue this trend and provides a support network for its 3,000 members.

‘They say it takes a village to raise a child,’ Tor said. ‘And New Family Social has been my village.’

Pitching for J-FLAG, Jamaica’s leading LGBT+ human rights organisation, Glenroy Murray drew attention to the need for effective campaigns in Jamaica.

‘Homophobia in Jamaica has manifested itself in violence and discrimination,’ he said, pointing out that there is no legal recognition for trans people and same sex couples are not recognised in family law.

The organisation advocates for reforms in policy and legislation and leads campaigns for visibility and celebration of queerness in Jamaica. ‘One should not have to choose between being Jamaican and being queer,’ said Glenroy. ‘Jamaica can be a place for all Jamaicans to be free.’

Finally, the room heard from Jayna Kothari for the Centre for Law and Policy Research in Bangalore. CLPR works to promote access to justice for the most marginalised groups in India and has recently been carrying out extraordinary work providing free legal representation to trans people.

‘Nothing challenges our deep-rooted gender issues like trans rights,’ said Jayna.

Glenroy Murray addresses crowd to pitch for funding at The Funding Network event (David Coles)

The criminalisation and stigma of trans people can push them into desperate places, but the pro bono work of CLPR is seeing exciting and positive progress. With the help of CLPR, three trans individuals secured a landmark decision in the Supreme Court that section 377 of the IPC, which criminalised sexual intercourse ‘against the order of nature’, was unconstitutional.

Jayna said that change was slow but businesses were becoming keen to make workplaces more diverse and that government was starting to follow.

‘Equality on the ground is needed,’ she said. ‘And there is a lot more work to be done.’

In a live crowdfunding pledging session that followed the pitches, the audience showed how keen it was for this and the work of the other organisations to be done. The evening raised over £25,000 towards bettering the lives of LGBT+ individuals and communities across the world, with matching donations from Macquarie for their employees.

The enthusiasm of the room echoed the words of Lord Browne from earlier in the evening. ‘It’s not only about the money. It’s about the source, and the source comes with a big message.’