Archive for June, 2011

Reaching out to refugees persecuted for sexual orientation, gender identity

Neil Grungras of ORAM

photo: ORAM

Repost from UNHCR

WASHINGTON, DC, United States, June 29 (UNHCR) – Advocates like Neil Grungras are vital as accounts increasingly emerge of persecution and violence towards refugees and asylum-seekers in parts of the world based on sexual grounds. Grungras has spent many years advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex refugees and asylum-seekers, and is the founder and executive director of the San Francisco-based Organisation for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM). ORAM’s work includes education, representation, advocacy and capacity building on LGBTI issues. UNHCR Public Information Intern Dasha Smith spoke to him during a recent forum on LGBTI refugee protection in Washington, DC. Continue Reading Excerpts from the interview

Watch President Obama’s Remarks at White House LGBT Pride Celebration

Bipartisan Support for Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on International LGBT Rights

Capitol Hill ImageJune 28, 2011—Leaders of the LGBT Equality Caucus and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton last week welcoming her “leadership in responding to human rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals around the world.”  Quoting the Secretary’s statement at a Pride celebration last year, where she said that “human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights,” the letter, which was signed by 45 members of Congress, calls for the Secretary “to continue to build on that commitment.”

The letter was organized by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who helped launch the LGBT Equality Caucus in the last Congress, and it was endorsed both by the Republican Chariman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and the Ranking Democrat, Howard Berman (D-CA), who have both taken principled positions to promote the fundamental rights of LGBT communities through their foreign affairs leadership.  The letter details many of the State Department’s actions in support of LGBT rights over the past year, and it calls for additional information so that Congress can work with the State Department “to situate this agenda within our country’s broader human rights, public diplomacy and international development priorities.”  See a copy of the letter here.

Just this week, the Secretary renewed her commitment at another Pride celebration, where the LGBT employee group at the State Department (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) awarded the Secretary the group’s first-ever Equality Award.  See her remarks at this year’s Pride event here.

USAID to designate coordinator for LGBT issues overseas

Repost from the Washington Blade

A top official with the U.S. Agency for International Development announced on Monday a senior coordinator would soon be named to guide the administrative division on LGBT issues overseas.

Donald Steinberg, USAID’s deputy administrator, unveiled plans to create the new position during a panel discussion in which officials discussed ways the State Department was integrating LGBT concerns abroad as part of U.S. foreign policy.

“In order to highlight these concerns, we’re pleased to announce that USAID will shortly name a senior coordinator for sexual orientation and gender identity who will be responsible for advising the USAID administrator on this agenda,” Steinberg said.

USAID is an agency under the State Department charged with fostering the growth of developing countries as well as supporting U.S. foreign policy objectives by promoting global health and democracy abroad. Continue reading at the Washington Blade

Watch Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Event Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Marking Progress for LGBT Americans in Foreign Affairs

Amb. Susan Rice at UN

photo: US Department of State

Repost from Dipnote (The State Department Blog)

Curtis Ried is a Political Advisor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. For more information on the work of the U.S. Mission to the UN, visit www.usun.state.gov and follow Ambassador Rice on Twitter and Facebook.

Life at the State Department has changed immeasurably for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees since the founding of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) in 1992. As a member of GLIFAA and a Foreign Service Officer, I deeply appreciate the dedication of the Obama Administration to ensuring that LGBT members of the Foreign Service enjoy many more equal benefits for our partners and families than was the case until just a few years ago. On a broader level, the central role this Administration has given to the promotion of human rights for LGBT persons around the world is a tremendous source of pride for me and for my fellow LGBT colleagues. Continue reading at Dipnote

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at LGBT Pride Month Reception

Amb. Susan Rice, United NationsRemarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at a LGBT Pride Month Reception Held by Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, at the State Department

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Washington, DC
June 24, 2011

Thank you. It’s great to be with you here today. And I want to thank my IO colleague Chris Deutsch for that warm introduction and Jon Tollefson for everything he does to lead GLIFAA.

It’s particularly fitting that I am able to speak to this group today—exactly one week after the United Nations, for the first time in history, adopted a resolution dedicated to advancing the basic and fundamental human rights of LGBT persons. That vote at the Human Rights Council marked a major victory for defenders of human rights. It sent a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end. And for the first time ever, it commissioned a UN report to investigate the challenges that LGBT persons face.

This was more than just another vote in Geneva. That vote marked the beginnings of universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights as all human beings and entitled to the same protections as all human beings. The United Nations is finally beginning to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons—and as it does so, the world will become a safer, more just, and more humane place for all. Continue reading ‘Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at LGBT Pride Month Reception’

Join the Pride Month Celebration with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Monday, June 27, 2011 at approximately 10:25 a.m. and will be streamed live on www.state.gov.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks on “The Human Rights of LGBT People and U.S. Foreign Policy” at an event co-hosted by the State Department and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA).

The event will be open to credentialed members of the media and streamed live on www.state.gov.

Preceding the Secretary’s remarks, Under Secretary Maria Otero will lead a panel discussion with senior U.S. Government Officials at 9:30 a.m. The discussion topics will include the status of LGBT people around the world and how the U.S. Government can promote the protection of their human rights. The panel discussion will also be open to credentialed members of the media.

The event is part of a series of LGBT Pride Month celebrations at the U.S. Department of State.

Press access times will be forthcoming in the public schedule.

PRESS CONTACTS
Michelle Schohn
GLIFAA Spokesperson
(703) 881-6117

Department of State
Office of Press Relations
(202) 647-2492

GLIFAA, officially recognized by the U.S. State Department, represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) personnel and their families in the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and other foreign affairs agencies and offices in the U.S. Government. Founded in 1992 by fewer than a dozen employees who faced official harassment simply because of their sexual orientation, GLIFAA continues to seek equality and fairness for LGBT employees and their families. For more information, please visit http://www.glifaa.org/ or follow @GLIFAA on Twitter.

The Dark Closet

Foreign Policy MagazineRepost from Foreign Policy

Don’t let the Amina hoax distract attention from the plight of the real gay community in Syria.

DAMASCUS, Syria In a city like Damascus, with its beautiful culture, amazing people, lovely food, and unmatchable history, one feels like they could be anything — anything but gay, that is.

When Tom MacMaster, an American master’s degree student living in Scotland, revealed himself to be the writer behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog, it shattered the trust between the Middle Eastern blogosphere and the foreign media, and endangered the lives of queer people across the region who stepped out of the closet to answer questions about “Amina,” MacMaster’s fictional creation.

I remember sitting on a balcony overlooking rainy Damascus this April with my best friend in the city, who happens to be a lesbian, chatting about the queer community here. Continue reading at Foreign Policy

US State Department Briefing on LGBT Resolution at UN Human Rights Council

The following post is the transcript of a phone briefing held by the US State Department after the historic vote by the UN Human Rights Council on LGBT Human rights.

Press Releases: Briefing on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Resolution at UN Human Rights Council
Fri, 17 Jun 2011 15:11:19 -0500

Special Briefing
Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Suzanne Nossel
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Daniel Baer
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Via Teleconference, Washington, DC

OPERATOR: Welcome, everyone, and thank you for standing by. At this time, I’d like to inform all participants that your lines are in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session of today’s conference call. If you would like to ask questions, please press *1 on your touchtone phone. To withdraw your request, you may press *2. Today’s call is being recorded, and I will now turn it over to our first speaker, Mr. Mark Toner. Thank you. You may begin.

MR. TONER: Good morning, and thanks to everyone for joining us on such relatively short notice. As you know, this morning, at least our time, but earlier today, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. And here to talk to us today about this historic resolution, we have our Ambassador to the Human Rights Council Eileen Donahoe as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Suzanne Nossel, and our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer.

Without further ado, I’ll hand it off to Ambassador Donahoe just to make some brief remarks, and I believe that Suzanne and Dan will also chime in before we take your questions. So over to you, Ambassador. Continue reading ‘US State Department Briefing on LGBT Resolution at UN Human Rights Council’


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