Archive for December, 2011

Kudos to Simpson Miller on gay rights

Portia Simpson Miller on gays in her cabinetRepost from The Jamaica Gleaner

This newspaper commends the leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), Portia Simpson Miller, for her mature stand on whether gays could serve in a government she leads and, more broadly, the rights of homosexuals.

Mrs Simpson Miller argued, rightly, that people’s sexual orientation is their business. She doesn’t want to be a voyeur. The pertinent consideration in appointing a Cabinet, therefore, is competence.

By contrast, Prime Minister Andrew Holness waffled, arguing that his “sentiment must be the sentiment of Jamaica”. That, essentially, is homophobic.

But the responsibility of leaders is to lead, not merely to reflect popular sentiment.

In that regard, we welcome the pledge of a PNP administration to review the buggery law and allow a conscience vote on the matter. We urge Mrs Simpson Miller to go further, making the repeal of a law that has no place in the 21st century a platform promise.

Related: Watch Portia Simpson Miller, during a Jamaican Election Debate, address whether or not she would have gay people in her cabinet.

Dignity For All: Reactions from LGBT and Human Rights Organizations

Repost from The Office of Public Engagement

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton articulated the first-ever U.S. Government strategy to direct all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

These actions represent a continuation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to safety, justice, and equality for LGBT people everywhere. President Obama expressed this commitment earlier this year at the United Nations General Assembly, when he said “No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.” And since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has strongly and consistently championed a comprehensive human rights agenda — one that specifically includes the protection of LGBT people. Continue reading ‘Dignity For All: Reactions from LGBT and Human Rights Organizations’

United Nations releases report “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity”

United Nations releases report "Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity"December 15, 2011–The United Nations today released a groundbreaking report, titled simply “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” by the UN’s leading human rights commissioner.  Recognizing that “governments and inter-governmental bodies have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, “ the report was requested by the UN’s Human Rights Council in its first-ever resolution last June condemning acts of violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals.  The resolution was introduced by South Africa, with strong support from the United States and a cross-regional coalition of countries.

Today’s UN report is a groundbreaking new compendium of international law.  It makes clear that criminalizing individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is in fact a fundamental denial of their human rights and human dignity.  So, too, are acts of violence and discrimination.  The report emphasizes that “in all regions, people experience violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In many cases, even the perception of homosexuality or transgender identity puts people at risk.  Violations include – but are not limited to – killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education.” Continue reading ‘United Nations releases report “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity”’

Hilary Clinton’s landmark Human Rights Day speech

Julie Dorf, San Francisco Chronicle Op Ed, Hilary Clinton Human Rights SpeechOp Ed by Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor, The Council for Global Equality

As I listened to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s landmark Human Rights Day speech last week before a United Nations audience in Geneva, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was not alone in wiping tears away during the speech. Many others from our delegation of U.S. and global activists – State Department officials too – were equally touched by the secretary’s words. When it was over, I had never been prouder as an American, as an activist and as a lesbian.

Clinton was at her best. And we were there not only to witness that moment in history, but also because we were an integral part of shifting U.S. policy. Continue reading ‘Hilary Clinton’s landmark Human Rights Day speech’

A Changed U.S. State Department

Ambassador Michael Guest (Council for Global Equality) x390 | Advocate.com

By former U.S. ambassador to Romania  and Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality, Michael Guest

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s December 6 Geneva speech on LGBT rights is another high-water mark in the Obama administration’s integration of the human and civil rights of LGBT people into U.S. foreign policy.

Clinton spoke to a diplomatic audience, one that included ambassadors from a range of countries that criminally penalize same-sex relations and relationships. Her message — that LGBT people are humans with inherent and equal value — was framed with reason and wrapped in sensitivity to culture and religion. The references to her own personal journey on this issue, and to that of our country, underscored that fairness for LGBT people is a common cause, not a subject for lecture.

This, of course, confirms a refreshing change of direction for U.S. diplomacy on a previously ignored problem. The U.S. is a latecomer to international efforts to address the horrific abuses that LGBT people suffer around the world, and the need for our voice has never been more acute. The Obama administration has risen to the occasion in numerous examples where LGBT rights have been at stake. Although a good start, these efforts often have carried a catch-up feel, without strategic thought or direction. Clinton’s speech provides that framework and direction. Continue reading ‘A Changed U.S. State Department’

LGBT Activists from Around the World React to Secretary Clinton’s Speech

In Photo (right to left): Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Alice N’kom (Cameroon), Anastasia Danilova (Moldova), Sanja Juras (Croatia), Adrian Jjuuko (Uganda), Sass Sasot (Philippines), Polina Savchenko (Russia), Vladimir Simenko (Lithuania), Arvind Narrain (India), Zoryan Kis (Ukraine), Santiago Eder (Colombia), N’dumie Funda (South Africa), Pouline Kimani (Kenya), and Rev. MacDonald Sembereka (Malawi).

December 9, 2011 – For this historic moment in the LGBT movement, the Council for Global Equality was privileged to bring 14 prominent LGBT activists from around the world to Geneva to be present for Secretary Clinton’s Human Rights Day speech. The Council applauds both Secretary Clinton for the pitch-perfect speech as well as President Obama for yesterday’s vital Presidential Memorandum addressing the human rights of LGBT people worldwide.

Reactions from LGBT human rights defenders from around the world who were on hand to witness the speech included these:

Arvind Narrain from the Alternative Law Forum in India: “The Secretary made a passionate case for LGBT rights as gay rights while being very culturally sensitive. The generosity of mentioning the gains in South Africa, Brazil, India, and Nepal conveyed a wider sense of ownership of these issues.”

Sass Rogando Sasot from Society of Transsexual Women of the Philiipines: “The sincerity and courage of Secretary Clinton is an invitation for us to make the dignity of our common humanity the center and goal of our politics. Her speech is another step towards a world that’s more inclusive, fair, and compassionate.”

Polina Savchenko from the Russian LGBT Network: “Secretary Clinton’s point about ‘honest discussion’ is particularly important for Russia because we suffer from extreme ignorance. Discussion is shut down in our country. Her message about decriminalization was also very important in our country right now.”

Santiago Eder from Colombia Diversa: “It was extremely important that the Secretary of State of the United States of America introduced the concept that ‘gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.’ It was a very symbolic and historic moment for the gay liberation movement.”

Pauline Kimani of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya: “I really appreciated the speech. I loved the introspective parts and believe that the consultative process with these activists on the ground that was started today will continue for a lifetime!”

Adrian Jjuuko, Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Uganda: “It was a very powerful speech – which very relevant in the context of Uganda. Coming from the stature of HC, it amplifies our voices for equality much much further. I’m sure its impact will be felt for years to come.

Rev. MacDonald Sembereka of the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV/AIDS: “First and foremost, thank you Hillary Clinton and the U.S. government for starting a global discussion like never was done before. To me this has been a speech that touched all aspects of a discussion that we need to have globally. She covered all the pros and cons – and now the global discussion begins. I hope that the rest of the world takes it up.”

Anastasia Danilova of Gender DOC-Moldova: “It was very important speech for Moldova because we have no political will or support in our country for the human rights of LGBT people. That is why it is so important to have the high level of Hillary Clinton’s support for LGBT rights and freedoms. Personally, it was very empowering for her to talk about the importance of us – the LGBT activists.”

Alice N’kom of ADEFHO, Cameroon: “I am so honored and privileged to be a part of this historical message. As a defender of women’s human rights, it felt like it did after the Beijing conference on women — the Secretary had the same impact on LGBT human rights today as she did with women’s rights in Beijing. This makes our struggle a success. We will win, as we won in Beijing. And I hope my country and I will be a part of this side of history.”

Sanja Juras of Kontra, Croatia: “It was certainly a very important speech and crucial that such a high official sent the message that LGBT rights are human rights. This makes a difference for people all over the world. For us in Croatia, the mention of freedom of assembly was very important, since these rights are violated, as during gay pride demonstrations this year.”

Zoryan Kis of Fulcrum, Ukraine: “It was very exciting to really witness the history that Secretary Clinton said we are on the right side of. For the Ukrainian LGBT community the message that ‘we are not alone’ was so important to hear. The other message about the evolution of opinions and how Clinton’s own understanding has developed was really helpful to our work. We cannot persuade people through accusations, but we have to work to help our society understand and accept LGBT rights.”

J-FLAG Representative, Jamaica: “I was so honored to be a part of this moment in history. The central thing that stuck out for me is that progress begins with honest conversation. That is key for us at home in Jamaica to begin more rational, honest conversations about the rights of our people, including LGBT.”

Vladimir Simenko of the Lithuanian Gay League: “Personally, as an human rights watchdog for two decades, I sometimes feel frustrated. But when I heard Hillary Clinton say that we have friends and partners abroad, I really felt that we are not alone.  I truly feel motivated and inspired. We will use this message for our struggle – and hope that our government does too.”

Council Applauds Clinton Speech and White House Announcement in Support of Human Rights for All

Secretary Clinton delivering remarks at the UN GenevaSecretary Clinton made a powerful case today at the UN in Geneva for why the respect and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide is of concern to the United States and the world. President Obama also released a Presidential Memorandum today commiting the entire U.S. government to support this important human rights agenda. The Council for Global Equality applauds their leadership.

The speech can be viewed via webcast by following the links below:

http://www.humanrights.gov/2011/12/06/human-rights-geneva

http://conx.state.gov/digital-diplomacy/

http://geneva.usmission.gov/2011/12/02/webcast/

If you would like to read the Secretary’s remarks: http://www.humanrights.gov/2011/12/06/remarks-in-recognition-of-international-human-rights-day/

Before Secretary Clinton addressed the the full general assembly, she met with LGBT Activists and Supporters from the Diplomatic Corps. You can read her remarks here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/12/178389.htm

See the Presidential Memorandum – International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/06/presidential-memorandum-international-initiatives-advance-human-rights-l


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