Archive for June, 2012

Listen to joint briefing by the White House and State Department on the annual Human Rights Report

Listen to a joint briefing by the White House and State Department on the annual Human Rights Report here.  (duration 58:21—Please note it will take a moment for playback to begin)

The State Department released its annual human rights report on May 24 this year.  (Copies are available on www.humanrights.gov.)  The Congressionally mandated report chronicles human rights conditions in every country, and it now includes a section on “Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Following the release of the report, the Council organized this briefing to discuss human rights trends impacting LGBT communities abroad.  The briefing featured Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer and White House National Security Council Director for Human Rights and Gender, Liz Drew, who discussed the trends and highlighted the steps the Administration is taking to respond.  Listen here.

We also invite you to visit our website www.globalequality.org, where you will find information on LGBT reporting in the Human Rights Reports over the past few years.  You can also download our new NGO Guide, Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders, which  highlights the various diplomatic tools that U.S. embassies use to advance a range of human rights and development objectives for LGBT communities abroad.

Related: A Widespread Pattern of Abuses Against LGBT People Worldwide Featured Again in 2011 Human Rights Report to Congress

Exclusive LGBT Pride Interview with Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy

Repost from The New Civil Rights Movement

by Tanya Domi

Under Secretary of State Tara D. Sonenshine, who is the chief of public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department, gave an exclusive interview to The New Civil Rights Movementthis week on the occasion of LGBT Pride month Sonenshine, who came to the State Department from the U.S. Institute of Peace as the Executive Vice-President, has a distinguished career in communications and government, including an award winning tenure in television journalism at ABC’s Nightline as a producer and reporter where she garnered 10 Emmy news awards.  She was sworn in on April 24th and  is the seventh person to hold this position.

Just two months into her tenure, the savvy social media under secretary can be found on Twitter @Tsonenshine.  This week she makes her inaugural debut in a live global  tweet on Wednesday, June 27, 11:00 a.m. EDT. Using @StateDept with hashtag #AskState or @USAenEspanol using hashtag #AskUSA (seven other languages will also be accessible), interested followers can ask Sonenshine questions about the State Department and her responsibilities. Continue reading

Calling for the Rejection of Shocking Anti-Semitism and Homophobia Advocated by Right Wing Hungarian Political Party

Representative Joseph Crowley (NY-7)

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (NY-7), along with 49 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban strongly rejecting recent, shocking anti-Semitic and homophobic positions supported by the far-right political party, Jobbik. The lawmakers encouraged Hungary’s leaders to take a firm stand against these positions, including by speaking forcefully and publicly against anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and intolerance in the country. Jobbik captured third place in Hungary’s recent elections – just two points behind the Socialists who had been the previous governing party.

“This kind of despicable hate speech from members of the Jobbik party denigrates, intimidates and scapegoats minorities in Hungary and has no place in any society,” said Rep. Crowley, who has been an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism and intolerance throughout the world. “The encouragement of hate, both in speech and action, by the Jobbik party is alarming, not only to those victimized in Hungary, but the global community. Jobbik leaders need to know the world is watching.”

In the letter, the members condemn statements by Jobbik’s elected officials, such as that of its presidential candidate who referred to Israeli Jews as “lice-infested, dirty murders,” and its official magazine, which contains anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric. In addition, the members express serious concerns about Jobbik’s attacks on Hungary’s LGBT community, including calling for the firing of a prominent leader on the basis of his presumed sexuality and urging the imprisonment of those who allegedly “promote” homosexuality.

“We are deeply concerned, however, by anti-Semitic and homophobic positions espoused by members of the Jobbik party…These positions have no place in civilized discourse and must not be allowed to go unchallenged,” write the lawmakers.

The letter is supported by the American Jewish Committee, Human Rights Campaign and the Council for Global Equality. Read the full text of the letter to Prime Minister Orban after the jump. Continue reading ‘Calling for the Rejection of Shocking Anti-Semitism and Homophobia Advocated by Right Wing Hungarian Political Party’

Pride in U.S. Diplomatic Engagement: Council Chair Mark Bromley Reflects on U.S. Embassy Celebration in Japan

Bromley poses with the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan and Member of the House of Councillors, Mizuho Fukushima, and Taiga Ishikawa, an openly gay elected Member of Toshima Ward.

The Council was invited to join the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the U.S. Consulate in Osaka last week to commemorate LGBT Pride month, and I had the great pleasure of traveling to Japan to participate in those programs.  I met with Japanese politicians, students, business leaders and LGBT advocates in a series of meetings and open discussions.  The meetings included a breakfast with political leaders, including some of the first out politicians in Japan, a small but impressive group that is gaining respect due to the quality of their service and their leadership in an otherwise treacherous political landscape.

In Osaka, openly gay U.S. Consul General Patrick Linehan welcomed me and moderated an open discussion about LGBT equality in the United States and beyond.  He and his husband, Emerson Kaneguske, have been role models in support of LGBT equality in Japan and have spoken publicly to the Japanese press about their relationship on a number of occasions.  Indeed, they may be one of the most famous gay couples in Japan.  They are also proud representatives of the diversity of our country.

In Osaka, some students were appropriately skeptical of U.S. leadership in support of LGBT equality globally, especially when so much remains to be done in the United States to further the cause of human rights in our own country.  And then there were those who are still upset with our country’s decision to invade Iraq—a grudge that I assured them I shared.  But I was happy to point to Secretary Clinton’s landmark speech at the United Nations in Geneva last December, where she spoke with resolute humility and absolute clarity to declare that gay rights are human rights.

In her UN speech, Secretary Clinton recognized that our own country’s record is far from perfect and that not everyone will agree with everything we do.  And she recognized that too many LGBT Americans have suffered—and continue to suffer—grave violence and discrimination in their lives.  But this month in particular, as we celebrate the progress we have made and the journey that lies ahead in the march toward full equality, it is altogether fitting that our embassies are opening their doors to promote honest conversations about the rights and dignity of LGBT communities around the world.  In the words of Secretary Clinton, that “constellation of conversations in places big and small,” is the first step in recognizing and protecting the human rights of LGBT people everywhere.

My week in Japan was capped by the first Pride reception at the Tokyo residence of U.S. Ambassador John Roos.  The reception brought together hundreds of political, economic and civil society leaders.  The Ambassador and Counsel General Linehan presented an award to the first transgender politician in Japan, Aya Kamikawa.  The Consul General also offered a very personal reflection on his service in the U.S. Foreign Service, noting that when he joined the State Department he was told in his first security briefing that there was no room for “homos.”  His journey from that day to today, serving now as a senior U.S. diplomat with his husband at his side, provided a personal narrative that touched both the Americans and the Japanese in the room.  Stars and Stripes also covered the poignant story of Master Sgt. Marc Maschhoff, who noted that after living in secret in the Air Force for 23 years, “now I’m invited to a reception by the emissary of the president of the United States,” where he proudly introduced his boyfriend to politicians and diplomats in the audience. That, too, made quite an impression.

Embassies around the world are hosting similar Pride receptions this month, and to me they demonstrate the remarkable potential that exists for the United States to promote dialogue in countries that may have even more difficulty than we do in speaking respectfully about LGBT equality.  When the ambassador, as emissary of the president, opens the discussion, it sends a powerful message to the world about the importance our country places on the conversation.  By including LGBT leaders, it personalizes the conversation in an important way.  And that, I think, creates the space for that constellation of conversations that must ultimately sustain our movement for global equality.

Julie Dorf named to Go Magazines “100 Women That We Love”

Julie Dorf, Go Magazine's 100 Women We Love

photo: Ana Grillo

The leader of our nation has come out in support of LGBT equal rights—but millions of LGBT people around the globe have no such government advocate. Fortunately, they do have Julie Dorf. A leader in the movement toward international LGBT equality for the past 25 years, Dorf’s work ranges from lecturing on reparations for homosexual victims of Nazi persecution to acting as a philanthropic consultant for the world’s major social justice foundations. Based in San Francisco, she currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the Council for Global Equality, an organization she helped create and which advocates for LGBT-inclusive American foreign policy. Dorf also founded and directed the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) from 1990 to 2000, which advances the human rights of all people subjected to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. Abuse of LGBT individuals around the world is intractable—but Dorf is buoyed the fact that she “get[s] to work with and be inspired by so many amazing activists and thinkers from all over the world. I wake up every day feeling so fortunate. It is truly a privilege and a source of huge satisfaction to help make change for LGBT communities.” Find out who else made the list.

Secretary Clinton Delivers a Video Message for Pride Month

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a video message for Pride Month. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/06/192136.htm.

“Discrimination hampers development” – Commissioner Piebalgs launches a new initiative to fight discrimination in developing countries

European CommissionPress Release from the European Commission

Brussels, 01 June 2012 - EU Commissioner Piebalgs today unveiled the launch of a new €20 million package to help fight against any kind of discrimination – whether based on gender or sexual orientation, religion or belief, race or ethnic origin, or disability – which affects millions of people around the world.

The announcement was made during an event at the European Commission. High level speakers exchanged views on how to move ahead towards tolerant democracies as well as the added value of non-discrimination and the promotion of human rights to unlock sources of development and enable inclusive growth.

The EU announced that this new package will be available for NGOs and civil society groups to tackle incidences of any kind of discrimination on the ground. Continue Reading

Activist discusses impact of Obama’s gay marriage support

Courtesy: American Embassy

Repost from The Japan Times

By AYAKO MIEStaff writer

The recent endorsement of gay marriage by U.S. President Barack Obama was a milestone for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and could gain more support among younger voters who already overwhelmingly back same-sex marriages, according to a prominent American gay rights activist.

“I am optimistic that the polling is going to show eventually that it’s going to have a minimum impact on actual votes, and eventually gain some ground,” Bromley said during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.Mark Bromley, chairman of the Council for Global Equality, a 21-group coalition seeking a clearer and stronger U.S. position on global LGBT issues, said Monday in Tokyo that while same-sex marriage would be an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, it would not take center stage in a way that it could hurt the re-election chances of Obama, who in May became the first sitting U.S. leader to support gay marriage.

Bromley’s Tokyo visit was part of a push by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to celebrate LGBT Pride Month in June at U.S. embassies worldwide. Continue reading ‘Activist discusses impact of Obama’s gay marriage support’

US troops take part in LGBT Pride Month reception at US Embassy in Tokyo

COURTESY SAM MORSE

Repost from Stars and Stripes

TOKYO — Master Sgt. Marc Maschhoff revels in the turns his life has taken in the last year.

Last summer, Maschhoff had to keep his sexuality a secret or risk being kicked out of the Air Force.

On Monday, he was happily introducing his boyfriend to diplomats and politicians from around the world as the U.S. ambassador to Japan held a reception in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month.

“I can’t believe I’ve been in the Air Force 23 years living in secret, hiding who I am,” Maschhoff said before heading to the reception, which was closed to the media, “and now I’m invited to a reception by the emissary of the president of the United States.” Continue Reading.

Persecution of all, not selected, groups should be condemned

Michael Guest, The Council for Global EqualityRepost from the Charlotte Observer

From Michael Guest, a former Bush Administration ambassador who advises the Council for Global Equality, a coalition of human rights and LGBT advocacy groups.

Rev. Franklin Graham has suggested publicly a cut off of U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt, in response to the latter’s persecution of Christians.

And so, in light of the State Department’s latest human rights reports, how does Rev. Graham feel about providing assistance to Panama, Cameroon, El Salvador and other countries where officials were implicated last year of unlawfully harassing, detaining, or brutalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens?

State’s annual human rights report to Congress, released May 24, is widely regarded as the most comprehensive assessment available of human rights abuse abroad. The report is worth taking in.

In Jamaica, police were implicated in 12 cases of assault or other abuse directed at LGBT people. In South Africa, an average of 10 cases per week was reported of lesbians being subjected to “corrective rape,” generally without police response.

In Nigeria, local authorities failed to act against those responsible for stoning and beating members of an LGBT-affirming Christian church. Authorities in China, Russia, the Dominican Republic and Moldova denied freedom of assembly to LGBT citizens and groups. And in dozens of countries, gay and transgender people were denied employment or basic social services, including health, housing and education – only because of who they are.

Rev. Graham is right to be concerned about abuses directed at Egypt’s Coptic Christians. I stand at his side in expressing outrage, both at what this minority has suffered and at the Egyptian Government’s failure, more broadly, to protect minority rights.

But human rights are, if anything, a matter of principle. They are as universal as God’s love. And if all are created in God’s image, every person deserves respect. Continue reading ‘Persecution of all, not selected, groups should be condemned’


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