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Where discrimination leads, corruption follows

The week in corruption, 9 July 2021

a shot from the back of people marching in what appears to be a protest. two signs are visible - one says BLM in yellow on a black background, the other is a closed first in varying shades of brown, on a background of the trans pride flag and the rainbow pride flag.

Image: GrandAve / Shutterstock

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Some connections can take time to emerge – but once we see them, they become obvious.

Last week, we shared news following an undercover investigation into sextortion at a Mozambican prison. This disturbing case once again makes it painfully clear that corruption – while it hurts as all – does not affect each of us equally.

Corruption and discrimination have long been recognised as significant barriers to achieving an equal and inclusive future, but both have so far been studied separately. This week, as part of a unique collaboration with the Equal Rights Trust, we released a ground-breaking new study, Defying Exclusion.

We found compelling evidence that discrimination – whether on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or belief – enables and fuels corruption, creating a vicious cycle that deepens inequality

Illustration depicting various slogans: United Against Racism, Be You (rainbow flag), My Body My Rules, Trans Rights are Human Rights, Never Too Young To Change the World

Can corruption be a form of discrimination? Does discrimination open doors for corruption? We have just released the first examination of these crucial questions, in partnership with the Equal Rights Trust and dedicated community groups around the world, featuring the first-hand experiences of people affected by corruption and discrimination.

Double harm when corruption meets discrimination: Voices from communities

Dishonest officials know that they are less likely to be held to account when they prey on marginalised communities. In a cruel doubling down, this means people already dealing with structural racism, sexism, state-sponsored homophobia or other forms of discrimination are more likely to be on the receiving end of corrupt demands.

Some forms of corruption even target particular groups: sextortion is one example, with overwhelmingly women victims. The extortion of LGBTQI+ people is another.

We were looked down on, made invisible and denied our rights.
Ever Benito Xinka leader, Guatemala

Our study is built around powerful case studies of people who face adversity every day, from gay communities in Russia to Indigenous groups in Guatemala.

We are deeply grateful for their courage in sharing these personal stories. In particular, we want to recognise Forum 18, the Russian LGBT Network and the Kaleidoscope Trust for their vital work, day in and day out, supporting affected people.

We are working to bring these voices to the attention of leaders at a high-level global forum next week. It’s the beginning of a new conversation to recognise that discrimination and corruption are not standalone injustices, but that they are deeply interwoven.

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