Archive for July, 2010

Statement by the President on UN Accreditation of the ILGHRC

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                                                             July 19, 2010

Statement by the President on UN Accreditation of the ILGHRC

I welcome this important step forward for human rights, as the  International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC) will take its rightful seat at the table of the United Nations. The UN was founded on the premise that only through mutual respect, diversity, and dialogue can the international community effectively pursue justice and equality.  Today, with the more full inclusion of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, the United Nations is closer to the ideals on which it was founded, and to values of inclusion and equality to which the United States is deeply committed.

Remarks by Ambassador Rosemary A. DiCarlo, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during an Economic and Social Council Debate on the Accreditation of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Rosemary A. DiCarlo
Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
July 19, 2010

AS DELIVERED

Mr. President, for over 20 years, the IGLHRC has been a respected human rights organization dedicated to combating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While it is registered in the United States, it also has offices in Argentina, South Africa, and the Philippines. By promoting the implementation of human rights treaties, it already has made a significant contribution to supporting the UN Charter and the work of this Council. It assists non-governmental organizations to prepare and submit documentation to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, the UN Special procedures, and UN treaty bodies.

The IGLHRC has also been a leader in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Its work has been praised by both UNAIDS and UNDP. Allow me to quote from a July 16th message from UNDP to the IGLHRC expressing appreciation for their ongoing cooperation: “Your attention to the links between human rights and HIV has opened up conversations, communication and cooperation in communities that are key to achieving crucial public health, human rights and development goals.” UNDP further expresses the hope that the IGLHRC will work with the recently established Global Commission on HIV and the Law to “ mobilize communities across the globe to promote public dialogue on how to make the law work for an effective response to HIV, in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG 6.”

In Resolution 1996/31, this Council put forth a set of principles to be applied in the establishment of consultative relations with non-governmental organizations. Let me cite the first three.

The first principle requires that: “The organization shall be concerned with matters falling within the competence of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies.” The IGLHRC easily meets this standard.

The second principle states: “The aims and purposes of the organization shall be in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” The IGLHRC clearly satisfies this standard. In fact, the advancement of the Charter lies at the core of its mission. Continue reading ‘Remarks by Ambassador Rosemary A. DiCarlo, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during an Economic and Social Council Debate on the Accreditation of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’

United Nations Grants Official Status to U.S.-based International LGBT Rights Group

repost from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

A victory against homophobic silencing of civil society

07/19/2010

For Immediate Release

Press Contacts:

Sara Perle, New York: +1 212-430-6015, sperle@iglhrc.org (English/Italian)
Jessica Stern, New York: +1 212-430-6014, jstern@iglhrc.org (English)
Cary Alan Johnson, Vienna: + 1 347-515-0330, cjohnson@iglhrc.org (English/French)
Marcelo Ferreyra, Buenos Aires: +54 11-4665-7527, mferreyra@iglhrc.org (Spanish/English)

(July 19, 2001) On July 19, 2010, the full United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted in favor of a US-led resolution to grant the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) consultative status. IGLHRC is only the tenth organization working primarily for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights to gain such status at the United Nations.

“Today’s decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. “The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The resolution passed with 23 in favor, 13 against, and 13 abstentions and 5 absences.

This victory is particularly significant, coming as it does after a prolonged 3-year application process in the sub-committee that makes initial recommendations on status. Despite full compliance with all procedures IGLHRC faced deferrals, homophobic questioning, and procedural roadblocks in the ECOSOC NGO Committee.

Today’s decision overturned a “no-action” vote in the NGO-committee that threatened to establish a dangerous precedent and the possibility of organizations deemed controversial being continuously denied the opportunity to have their application put to a vote even after undergoing the required review.

The vote also signals a recognition of the important role of a diverse and active civil society at the UN. In support of progress on IGLHRC’s application, a group of over 200 NGOs from 59 countries endorsed a letter to all UN Member States, demanding fair and non-discriminatory treatment and supporting IGLHRC’s goal of amplifying LGBT voices in the international arena. Continue reading ‘United Nations Grants Official Status to U.S.-based International LGBT Rights Group’

LGBT, Immigration, Civil Rights and Faith Groups Praise Congress for United Effort to End Discrimination Against Lesbian & Gay Binational Families

July 15, 2010
For Immediate Release

Contact:
Steve Ralls
(202) 347-7007 / sralls (at) imeqactionfund.org

WASHINGTON, DC – A coalition of organizations and leaders from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), immigrants’ rights, civil rights and faith communities issued the following statement today as Members of Congress gathered on Capitol Hill to call for passage of immigration reform legislation that ends discrimination against LGBT binational families: Continue reading ‘LGBT, Immigration, Civil Rights and Faith Groups Praise Congress for United Effort to End Discrimination Against Lesbian & Gay Binational Families’

Council for Global Equality Criticized in The Advocate for Airing Domestic Inequities at UN

image from advocate.com

The August edition of The Advocate, which hit newsstands yesterday, has an article by James Kirchick that criticizes the Council for submitting information to the United Nations for an upcoming human rights review.  The Council’s submission to the UN (and also to the State Department) suggests that the United States is failing its own LGBT citizens under a variety of human rights standards.

Read James Kirchick’s advocate article here.

American Duty

by Julie Dorf and Mark Bromley on behalf of the Council for Global Equality | advocate.com

“While we take issue with many of the points leveled against us in James Kirchick’s Advocate commentary “Diplomatic Disconnect,”we agree with his larger perspective. We share his belief that LGBT Americans can and should be engaged in making the world a better place for LGBT citizens in countries less democratic than our own, even while we simultaneously struggle to extend equality for all LGBT citizens at home.

But to have impact on the world stage, we firmly believe that the domestic and the international are interconnected and that we cannot advance one struggle without advancing both. In that sense, we believe that human rights begin “in small places close to home,” as Eleanor Roosevelt, credited with founding the modern human rights movement, so famously observed.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kirchick’s argument comes dangerously close to embracing the ugly specter of U.S. exceptionalism — the idea, in this case, that because things are relatively better in this country, the United States need not participate on an equal footing or with equal candor in reviewing its own human rights record. At heart, this argument stands in contrast to Eleanor Roosevelt’s equally famous human rights exhortation that “without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” continue reading The Council for Global Equality’s rebuttal here

Read the submission to the UN here

Ugandan Human Rights Activist Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Advocacy in the United States, Visits Washington, D.C., Louisville, and Salt Lake City

U.S. Department of State

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 9, 2010

Ugandan Human Rights Activist Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Advocacy in the United States, Visits Washington, D.C., Louisville, and Salt Lake City

One of Uganda’s most outspoken and prominent human rights activists, Ms. Valentine (Val) Kalende, is visiting the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program to focus on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy. Ms. Kalende will have discussions with members of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, faith groups, and the media, as well as with local and federal government officials. In turn, she will talk with U.S. interlocutors and broader audiences about the Ugandan human rights situation and challenges faced by members of the LGBT community.  Read full statement

LGBT trends in Africa

In the context of Secretary Clinton’s recent speech on LGBT rights, where she emphatically declared that “gay rights are human rights” and welcomed four LGBT activists from Africa to the State Department, it is important to reflect on the hostile view of LGBT rights that dominates the discourse in many parts of Africa.

Follow the links to read these two recent articles on LGBT trends in Africa by two notable South African commentators.
Homosexuality and the battle for Africa’s soul

by Mark Gevisser |Mail&Guardian |http://www.mg.co.za/

LGBTI* Freedom and Equality in Africa: a Different South African Perspective

Page 4 | By Zackie Achmat | International AIDS Society | http://www.iasociety.org/

LGBT Pride Celebration Event at U.S. State Department

Watch the full event including welcome statements from GLIFAA board president Bob Gilchrist, a speech from USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, an introduction from the Secretary’s of State Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Secretary Hilary Clinton’s remarks, a speech from Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz, as well as a panel discussion including Dan Baer of Department of Human Rights and Labor (U.S. Dept of State) Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality.

Getting the Best of Both Worlds – Progress on Global LGBT Issues

State Dept prior to Sec. Clinton's speech from left to right: Sybille Nyeck, Gift Trapence, Julius Kaagwa, Cary Alan Johnson, and Mark Bromley photo: Bronwynne Pereira

It was hard to keep a dry eye when Secretary of State Clinton introduced four LGBT activists from Uganda, Malawi, Cameroon, and South Africa to a packed auditorium at the State Department as part of her Pride address to the foreign service.  It was a highlight in the long struggle for equality for LGBT people to have the Secretary of State declare, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights – once and for all!”  Human rights defender Gift Trapence of Malawi expressed afterwards how powerful it was to have the Secretary of State of the United States look him in the eye with respect, since he is still considered a pariah at home because of his work on behalf of LGBT Malawians.

Amanda Cary (AJWS), Cary Alan Johnson (IGLHRC), Mark Bromley (CGE), Gift Trapence (CEDEP - Malawi), Julius Kaagwa (SIPD - Uganda), Sybille Nyeck (Cameroon), Julie Dorf (CGE), Stephanie DiBello (HRF), Bronwynne Periera (South Africa). This photo was taken prior to the meeting with the National Security Council staff. photo: Bronwynne Pereira

The Secretary announced a number of policy advancements, including the inclusion of gender identity in the employment policies at State, as well as the changes to passport procedures for transgender Americans. She strongly encouraged the regional bureaus to work harder on integrating LGBT issues into their work plans, and into public diplomacy programs. She also announced new attentiveness to the plight of LGBT refugees. But most importantly, she spoke with an ease and genuineness about sexual orientation and gender identity issues and about LGBT people and culture that was the most meaningful take-away from the speech.

Julius Kaagwa photo:Bronwynne Pereira

That same week, the four activists and organizational members of the Council—IGLHRC, OSI, AJWS, and Human Rights First—met with the Africa Bureau at the State Department,held another standing-room only briefing for staffers in Congress, and met with officials from the National Security team at the White House. The White House is also deepening its response to the human rights of LGBT people globally. During our meeting there, Julius Kaagwa of Uganda thanked the White House staff for the President’s public and behind-the-scenes interventions on the anti-gay law that was pending in Uganda just months ago.

For those of us in the United States who have been working on the international human rights of LGBT people, last week’s events were satisfying because we have never seen the U.S. government respond in that way. We have the best of both worlds, with Barack Obama in the White House and Hillary Clinton as our Secretary of State. It is up to us to ensure that we make the very best use of these two incredible LGBT allies who are now in powerful positions that impact the real lives of LGBT people around the world.


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