On August 4, 2011, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation that bars entry into the United States of individuals who participate in or condone serious human rights violations, including those targeting LGBT communities worldwide. Entry into the United States is now prohibited for anyone who “planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in . . . widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population based in whole or in part on . . . sexual orientation or gender identity, or who attempted or conspired to do so.”
The White House notes that “this proclamation will also cover participants in serious human rights violations, such as prolonged arbitrary detention,” and that the “proclamation also bans admission to the United States for those who are complicit in organizing these abuses – not just those who carry them out. As such, it allows the United States to act before planned abuses and atrocities metastasize into actual ones.” The Secretary of State will determine who should be barred under this new standard. See the White House Fact Sheet here.
The Council praises this important clarification, which could in principle be used to justify the exclusion of hate-promoting politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced a “kill the gays bill” in a previous legislative session in Uganda and may do so again. That bill, of course, would have carried dire consequences for LGBT individuals in Uganda. The President’s new order gives him and the Secretary of State an important tool to use in dissuading extremist actions that are prejudicial to basic human rights, and in encouraging the development of inclusive laws and societies.