Archive for April, 2012

U.S. Embassy and Blue Diamond Society Partner to Make Disaster Risk Reduction LGBTI-Inclusive

U.S. Embassy and Blue Diamond Society Partner to Make Disaster Risk Reduction LGBTI-InclusiveApril 27, 2012- The U.S. Embassy partnered with the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights organization at a workshop this morning to discuss ways to include the LGBTI community in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and relief programs.

The event, held at the Blue Diamond Society’s office in Lazimpat, Kathmandu, featured presentations from Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET), USAID, and the Nepal Red Cross Society. Topics covered included Earthquake Risks, Personal Preparedness Measures, and How to Access Humanitarian Assistance.

The goal of the half-day workshop was to bring stakeholders from the LGBTI and DRR communities together to discuss how programs could be more LGBTI-inclusive.

“It’s important that our programs are accessible and appropriate for all populations,” said Sheila Roquitte, Director of Disaster Risk Reduction Office at USAID. “Working with the Blue Diamond Society, we believe targeted risk reduction education within the LGBTI community can be an effective tool for outreach.”

The Blue Diamond Society was founded in 2001 to advocate for and protect the sexual health and human rights of LGBTI people in Nepal. While research has demonstrated that LGBTI people can be especially vulnerable in the wake of disasters, the U.S. Embassy hopes that by partnering with local LGBTI organizations, it can reach out to communities and reduce risk.

USAID is committed to addressing LGBT rights in all of its development activities, including disaster risk reduction.  Earlier this month at a film screening on LGBT Human Rights, USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg said, “Promoting LGBT rights is not just a question of fairness but it is also a matter of effectiveness.  The work of development experts is done more comprehensively and successfully when we ensure full inclusion and equality for all, including people with disabilities, indigenous groups, women, and the LGBT community.”

Video: President Obama on “Never Again” at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Full transcript of the speech is available at here.

Obama includes gays in Holocaust speech

President Obama

President Obama file photo

Repost from The Washington Blade

President Obama explicitly addressed the plight gay men faced during the Holocaust in a speech Monday urging that the atrocities of the genocide “never again” occur.

Speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in D.C., Obama included gays as part of the groups of people who were among the estimated 6 million victims during the genocide.

“We must tell our children about a crime unique in human history,” Obama said. “The one and only Holocaust — six million innocent people — men, women, children, babies — sent to their deaths just for being different, just for being Jewish. We tell them, our children, about the millions of Poles and Catholics and Roma and gay people and so many others who also must never be forgotten.”

Obama’s speech, delivered to an estimated 250 people, took place days after Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, which began Wednesday evening and ended in the evening Thursday.

The audience consisted of Holocaust survivors, Jewish community leaders, and organizations that work on atrocity prevention. It’s unclear if any representatives of the LGBT community were in the audience.

“We must tell our children,” Obama said. “But more than that, we must teach them. Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing. In this sense, ‘never again’ is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.”

“Never again” was a refrain that Obama used repeatedly throughout the speech as he called for the rejection of hatred in all forms and the right for free states to exist, including Israel.

During the speech, Obama unveiled the executive order he signed earlier in the day authorizing sanctions on Syrian and Iranian companies using internet technology to track dissidents.

The president also announced he would award the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — to Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic who witnessed Jews being taken away to concentration camps and personally reported about the genocide to President Franklin Roosevelt.

Prior to the speech, Obama was led on a tour of the museum by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Museum Director Sara Bloomfield. After the tour, the president and Wiesel lit a candle and observed a moment of silence in the Hall of Remembrance.

Obama’s inclusion of gays in his speech is significant because gay men were persecuted under Nazi control of Germany, although the state didn’t seek to kill all gay men as it did with the Jews as part of Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Continue reading ‘Obama includes gays in Holocaust speech’

New Report on LGBTI Refugees from ORAM

ORAM Rainbow Bridges 2012Rainbow Bridges, ORAM’s newest publication, shares the rare experience gained by ORAM during its yearlong pilot program assisting resettled LGBTI refugees in the San Francisco Bay Area. The refugees assisted had fled torture, severe harassment, and even execution in their countries of origin.

The guide is a treasure trove for individuals and organizations looking to lend their strength to victims of global homophobic violence by directly assisting in their U.S. integration. Rainbow Bridges includes:

  • Ways to secure U.S. admission for a refugee who is still overseas
  • Steps to build support systems for refugees among LGBTI and queer-friendly communities
  • Suggestions on providing a warm welcome to refugees during their first crucial months in the U.S.
  • Tips on safe and affordable housing for LGBTI refugees
  • Suggestions on how helping refugees can strengthen communities immeasurably

You can download the report here.

Ugandan LGBTI activist to seek support from Nobel laureates

Frank MugishaRepost from The Windy City Times

On April 22-25, Nobel Peace Prize laureates will gather in Chicago for the Nobel Summit, and Ugandan LGBTI activist Frank Mugisha will be there to ask the laureates to publicly recognize LGBTI rights as human rights.

Mugisha is working to raise awareness about the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda and other African countries through his work as the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Although LGBTI visibility has increased in African nations, many countries have laws, or are considering laws, that criminalize homosexuality—some with the punishment of death.

He believes that one of the most effective ways to stop the sanctioned brutality against LGBTI individuals is through human-rights leaders around the world acknowledging LGBTI rights as human rights. He was disheartened recently when Nobel Peace Prize winner and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was quoted in the Guardian supporting the criminalization of homosexuality and referring to her country’s traditional values.

Mugisha received the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and the 2011 Rafto Prize for Human Rights from the Rafto Foundation in Norway for his work. He spoke with Windy City Times by email about his upcoming visit. Continue Reading.

Pride March Support Statement by Ambassador John F. Tefft

Amb. John Tefft, UkraineMarch 2012- As Ambassador of the United States of America in Kyiv, I would like to express my support and the support of my country to all those who will participate in the first ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride March in Ukraine on May 20, 2012.  It saddens me to note that in many parts of the world, members of the LGBT community continue to suffer violence, discrimination, or persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  As Secretary of State Clinton states, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” and by embracing diversity, promoting tolerance and fighting prejudice and discrimination, we strive to build a world where everyone can enjoy his or her fundamental human rights.

I would like to convey my appreciation to the organizers of the Kyiv Pride March, and I hope that many people, both gay and straight, will join us in this cause.  I wish everyone a successful and peaceful celebration.


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