Archive for May, 2012

Remarks on Anti-Semitism and Human Rights for LGBT People for the Cream City Foundation

U.S. Department of State, Hannah RosenthalRepost from State.gov

By Hannah Rosenthal
Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
May 30, 2012

As a child of a Holocaust survivor, anti-Semitism is something very personal to me. I am the daughter of a man who was literally marked by a badge of “difference” – a yellow star that not only made him stand out as non-German in the eyes of the Nazis, but also placed a bounty on his head. A survivor of Buchenwald, my father experienced what hate, left unchecked, can do. As a result of his experiences, he instilled in me an urgency to fight not only anti-Semitism, but also intolerance in all of its forms.

The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters of human history – a democratically elected leader was allowed to turn hatred into genocide because good people didn’t stop him. Good people didn’t stand up and prevent the cattle cars from carrying their neighbors to the gas chambers. Good people didn’t say no when their neighbors were stripped of their German citizenship simply because they were Jewish. Yes, there were thousands of rescuers – a fact I talk about widely – but it was not enough. Society failed and millions of Jews, Roma, and LGBT individuals were the innocent victims of what the power of hatred left unchecked can achieve. Continue Reading.

Widespread Pattern of Abuses Against LGBT People Worldwide

Washington, DC – May 25, 2012 – The Department of State’s 2011 Human Rights Report, released yesterday, catalogues an ongoing range of abuses and discriminatory treatment directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide – starkly underscoring what Secretary Hillary Clinton has called “…one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.”

Speaking in Geneva last December, Secretary Clinton noted that, too often, LGBT people remain an “invisible minority,” members of which “…are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed…” while “…authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse.”

The newly released report bears witness to such abuse.  Most disturbingly, it documents that police, other government security forces, and prison personnel have been implicated directly in the harassment or abuse of LGBT citizens in a range of countries, including (but not limited to) Afghanistan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, and Panama.  Harassment and abuse often were directed in particular at transgender individuals.  In Turkey, a range of LGBT organizations complained of harassment by police and government authorities.  In Cote d’Ivoire, the report notes that “gay men were reportedly subjected to beatings, imprisonment, verbal abuse, humiliation, and extortion by police, gendarmes, and members of the armed forces.”

The report also describes broader patterns of discrimination against LGBT individuals in many areas of the world.  In Sierra Leone and India, LGBT people have been denied basic social services, from health services to housing.  In Botswana and many other countries, governments failed to register LGBT advocacy groups or recognize their status as legitimate civil society organizations.  In Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and elsewhere, LGBT employees have been driven from their jobs, or faced discrimination in hiring, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In Nigeria, local authorities again failed to take any legal action against persons who stoned and beat members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, an LGBT-affirming church in Lagos in 2008.  During the past year, church parishioners and clergy continued to receive threatening e-mail messages, phone calls and letters.

The report notes that in South Africa, the country’s largest LGBT organization received in Cape Town alone an average of 10 new cases every week of lesbians being targeted for “corrective rape.”  This disturbing trend also was noted in other countries, where men raped lesbians “to punish them for being lesbian and to attempt to change their sexual orientation.”

Finally, various reports include instances in which the internet has been a source of discrimination against LGBT people. These include Oman, where authorities took measures to block LGBT related content from the internet, and Iran, which monitored internet websites for information on LGBT individuals.

The Council is grateful to our Foreign Service personnel who understand that, as Secretary Clinton has said, LGBT rights are, in fact, human rights.  We urge that the State Department and Congress work together to carry out a serious, sustained and purposeful dialogue with governing officials in all countries, as identified in the Department’s report, that have failed to recognize this essential reality, with a goal of ensuring that LGBT people are treated with the dignity, fairness, and equality to which all people should be entitled.  We further urge ongoing scrutiny of the degree to which foreign governments respect and honor the rights of their LGBT citizens, in keeping with the democratic and human rights principles on which U.S. foreign policy should be based.

Excerpts of the report’s findings on LGBT issues in every country can be downloaded here.

Rights body has finally stood up for gays and lesbians

repost from Daily Nation

by Makau Mutua

Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC.

I’ve been pilloried for standing up for gays and lesbians. Tough luck – that won’t stop me. Nor will it drive gay rights activists underground.

Those days are over – gone for good. That’s why I was ecstatic when the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the country’s official human rights watchdog, asked the government to decriminalise homosexuality and sex work.

I never thought a credible Kenyan institution would ever do what the KNCHR has done. It’s perhaps the most important social statement to come out of the KNCHR.

It’s an acceptance that gays and lesbians are part of Kenyan society. It means “straights” needn’t be afraid. Continue reading

Secretary Clinton To Release Annual Human Rights Reports

On May 24, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner will release the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at 10:30 a.m. in the Department of State Press Briefing Room. The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, commonly known as the Human Rights Reports, cover the status of human rights in countries around the world.

The Council for Global Equality will continue its annual compendium of report references to human rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The compendium will be posted here and on our website.

To view last years compendium click here

Winners of the Human Rights Defenders Award

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 18, 2012

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce that Ales Byalyatski of Belarus and Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law are the joint winners of the 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award. This award recognizes individuals or non-governmental organizations that show exceptional valor and leadership in advocating the protection of human rights and democracy in the face of government repression. Continue reading ‘Winners of the Human Rights Defenders Award’

Strengthening Protection for LGBT Refugees

Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration addresses crowd at event marking IDAHO.

Council Chair Mark Bromley moderated a panel at an event hosted by The Council for Global Equality, The Human Rights Campaign, and Human Rights First marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). The event also marked the release of The Road to Safety: Strengthening Protection of LGBTI Refugees in Uganda and Kenya by Human Rights First. Remarks were made by the Honorable Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; as well as Eleanor Acer, Director of the Refugee Protection Program at Human Rights First. HRC Legislative Director, Allison Herwitt opened the event. There was also an interactive panel discussion with Duncan Breen – Senior Associate for HRF’s Refugee Protection Program – and Larry Yungk – Senior Resettlement Officer of the UN Refugee Agency.

Click here to watch the full event.

Read Secretary Anne Richards remarks here.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

IDAHO is celebrated worldwide to commemorate the date, May 17, 1990, when homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization.

The Council for Global Equality is commemorating this day with the release of our NGO guide – Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders.

Council Releases NGO Guide to Human Rights

In Recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO):

Washington, DC – May 17, 2012 – The Council released a new NGO guide, Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

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The guide highlights the various diplomatic tools that U.S. embassies use to advance a range of human rights and development objectives, from diplomatic “démarches,” to support for LGBT refugees to the drafting of the annual human rights report that is required of every U.S. embassy.  It also looks at various opportunities that exist for U.S. embassies to support, both technically and financially, LGBT advocates in host countries.

The guide recognizes that U.S. embassies around the world have traditionally reached out to civil society organizations and local human rights defenders to support a broad human rights agenda.  Until recently, however, U.S. embassies rarely included LGBT civil society organizations or defenders in their outreach.  That has now changed, and U.S. embassies are reaching out to local LGBT groups to learn more about the human rights abuses that LGBT communities experience, and to explore opportunities to partner with civil society to address those abuses.

The guide points out that U.S. embassy support for the human rights and human dignity of LGBT communities reflects, in part, America’s attempt to promote fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and expression.  As such, the guide helps human rights defenders in other countries ground their requests in language that relates back to freedoms rooted in America’s Constitution, and that enjoy strong bipartisan support even amid other debates in Washington.

While focusing on the needs of one particularly invisible and at-risk group of human rights defenders, the Council also uses the guide to paint a broad justification for the inclusion of LGBT groups in U.S. human rights policy.   When U.S. embassies use the diplomatic, economic and political tools that are available to them to promote the rights and social inclusion of marginalized communities, including LGBT individuals, they stand firmly for human rights, but they also help foster tolerant, democratic and diverse societies that make better diplomatic allies and stronger economic partners over the longer term.


Analysis: The global impact of Obama’s support for gay marriage

President Barack Obama, Supports Gay Marriage

(Pete Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

The president’s decision represents a “next generation” for whom LGBT equality is a given.

May 10, 2012–As an LGBT rights advocate, I have experienced so many proud moments with our president. Our community in the United States can count a number of major achievements during President Obama’s tenure: an inclusive hate crimes law; the repeal of the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; and the hugely important decision that the attorney general will longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

So when the rumors started buzzing yesterday morning that Obama was about to announce his support for marriage equality, it was yet another exciting moment of tangible progress in our country and by our president. When I watched the ABC interview, I was most struck by the weight he gave to his conversations around the dinner table with his daughters, who themselves have friends with lesbian and gay parents. Obama acknowledged that his daughters’ perspectives have helped him evolve: “It wouldn’t even dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently.” Continue reading ‘Analysis: The global impact of Obama’s support for gay marriage’

Eight Months in Solitary

Repost from The Advocate

by Andrew Harmon

A few days after Christmas last year, Ruby Corado, a longtime transgender activist in Washington, D.C., received a telephone call while watching late-night TV. The number on her iPhone was from Rappahannock Regional Jail, about an hour’s drive south of the nation’s capital in Stafford, Va. Rappahannock is one of more than 200 facilities nationwide that contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house those awaiting a judge’s decision on whether they can remain in the United States or will be deported back to their home country. On any given day, about 32,000 people are held in detention, many for violating immigration law — a civil, not criminal, offense.

Weak and distraught, the transgender woman calling Corado at 11 p.m from Rappahannock was one of them. Her name was Kripcia, and she had been held for eight months in what ICE calls “administrative segregation” — solitary confinement, in nonbureaucratic terms. A native of El Salvador, she was arrested in early 2011 for failure to pay a cab fare. Continue Reading


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