34 | International Alert When merely existing is a risk 6. Conclusion As shown in the discussion above, gendered societal dynamics of exclusion and violent conflict affect SGM individuals and communities in specific ways – ways that have to date not been raised to any great degree in peacebuilding programming or policy. In part, this invisibility has been due to a lack of knowledge and information about the issue, and in part it may be out of a reluctance to engage with an issue that is seen as either marginal or too sensitive. Nonetheless, there is a clear case for bringing SGM issues into peacebuilding that encompasses making societies more comprehensively inclusive and taking the concerns of the most vulnerable sections of society into consideration. As outlined above, SGM persons are often among the most exposed to different forms of violence and exclusion, be it by armed actors or civilians, and escaping a conflict zone may not result in finding safety and security, and even expose them to further vulnerability. Examining violence and discrimination against SGM persons also helps us to better understand the gendered dynamics behind exclusionary politics and violence.
When merely existing is a risk International Alert | 35 7. Recommendations Our examination of SGM needs and vulnerabilities in conflict-affected situations as well as the responses to them lead us to make the following recommendations for the peacebuilding sector: 1. There is a need for peacebuilding policy and practice to engage more with the fact that gender is not a binary categorisation of women and men only, and that non-heterosexual practices and identities should be taken into account when using a gender lens to understand and intervene in peacebuilding contexts. As with gender more broadly, SGM concerns need to be seen through a relational and intersectional lens, that is, understanding the interplay between SOGI and other social identity markers in defining behaviour, vulnerabilities and peacebuilding opportunities. In doing so, care should be taken to understand local SGM identities in their diversity in order to avoid restricting analyses to those identities also present in Western conceptualisations. 2. Given the sensitivity of the issue and the sometimes extremely vulnerable position of SGM individuals and communities, adopting a ‘doing no harm’ approach is essential. Working on these issues requires taking approaches that are conflict-sensitive, do not endanger the intended beneficiaries or the staff of the implementing agency, and do not jeopardise other work. Work in this field needs to be carried out in a way that is sensitive to the wishes and needs of the intended beneficiaries and sensitive to the risk of a backlash if this is seen as an outside imposition. Likewise, those not directly working on SGM issues should ensure that they are not inadvertently causing harm to SGM persons and communities. 3. As SGM issues have mostly been at the margins of conflict and peacebuilding research, policy and programming, there is an immense need to conduct more research to better understand what these issues are in particular geographical and thematic contexts, and for peacebuilding actors to have open discussions about what these findings mean for our work. 4. At the policy level, approaches to gender in peacebuilding such as the global WPS framework need to be broadened and deepened to not only refer to women and girls, or to women, men, girls and boys, but to expand this to cover all gender identities. 5. Peacebuilding work must do more to integrate SGM perspectives and broader understandings of gender identity into all peace-related activities, be they direct relief and recovery support and aid; access to justice; access to resources; participation, prevention and protection; judicial reform and SSR; DDR; SGBV service provision; or psycho-social rehabilitation, thereby addressing particular vulnerabilities and contributing to more inclusive, peaceful societies. 6. As actors in the peacebuilding field, we all must ensure that our internal mechanisms, policies and ways of working are non-discriminatory and inclusive, and take the safety, security and dignity of all beneficiaries, partners and staff into account, regardless of their SOGI.