Archive for the 'U.S. House of Representatives' Category

Tammy Baldwin, Susan Collins, David Cicilline and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Pen Op-Ed “Human Rights Issues Pollute Olympic Spirit”

Repost from USA Today

Host countries should promote tolerance. IOC failed on this principle in picking Russia.

On Friday, the world will come together to open the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia — a celebration of hard work and fair play, social responsibility, and international friendship. Every two years, the Olympic Games bring the world together, regardless of political ideology, to compete in feats of endurance, strength and sportsmanship. The issues that often divide our world seem to be suspended or even temporarily disappear during the Olympics. And instead of focusing on our differences, we come together as a global community to focus on what we have in common and our shared appreciation for our athletes and the games.

Although some individuals or groups have threatened to use the Games as an opportunity to wreak violence, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to organize the Games to promote peace through sport — diplomacy through fierce, but friendly competition. In many ways, the IOC has been successful in its mission, as stated in the Olympic Charter, “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

The Olympic Games are unparalleled in their ability to bring together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and to promote tolerance and acceptance of these differences. Fundamental Principle Six of the Olympic Charter explicitly prohibits “(a)ny form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.” This principle reflects the basic human right of equality before the law — the idea that everyone enjoys the same basic human rights free of discrimination. Continue Reading

Pressure Builds on Ukraine to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Washington, DC – March 13, 2013 –The Council for Global Equality applauds the 62 members of the U.S. Congress, who yesterday, called on Chairman Rybak of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, urging the country to refrain from passing pending anti-gay laws. These so-called “Homosexual Propaganda” laws clearly violate basic freedoms of assembly, speech, and press, with criminal sanctions of up to six years in prison for positive media portrayals of same-sex relationships or public gatherings for LGBT rights.

The bipartisan letter was led by Congressman Eric Swalwell of California who stated: “Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people. This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”

Tomorrow in Geneva, human rights defenders from the LGBT Council of Ukraine will be delivering a response to these proposed laws before the UN Human Rights Council, where they will condemn Ukraine’s blatant rejection of the UN’s call to scrap these bills. As part of the “Universal Periodic Review” of Ukraine’s human rights record, Ukrainian diplomats stated that their constitution provides sufficient protection, and that the government had no authority over members of Parliament. Olena Shevchenko, representing Ukrainian civil society, responded by noting: “Unfortunately, we need to recognize that the human rights situation of LGBTI people has worsened in Ukraine. Violence against LGBTI people has increased, and peaceful and legitimate public demonstrations against homophobic legislation have been banned and led to the arrest of LGBTI human rights defenders.”

In addition to the public sentiments of the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, members of the European Parliament have also written to their Ukrainian peers to express similar concerns and to call on them to reject the laws. “We hope this public pressure will encourage Ukrainian authorities to see the crucial need for protective legislation for LGBT citizens, as opposed to these outrageous attempts to criminalize basic freedoms of expression. As nondiscrimination laws and provisions are reviewed, sexual orientation and gender identity should be included as grounds for protection – as opposed to these laws, which purposefully exclude LGBT citizens from basic human rights protections,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.

Read the letter.

Related Content:  Sixty-two Members of Congress Call on the Ukrainian Parliament to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Sixty-two Members of Congress Call on the Ukrainian Parliament to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Ukraine Parliament LGBT rightsWASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Joe Crowley (NY-14) and David Cicilline (RI-1) led a bipartisan letter to the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament expressing their concerns about draft Ukrainian laws that violate the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies – specifically the freedoms of assembly and expression.

Currently two discriminatory bills are pending in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament. The bills prohibit “propaganda of same-sex sexual relations.”  If passed, the bills would ban sending out positive messages about being gay, whether through materials, the media or public gatherings like parades.  For example, the bills could restrict access to accurate information about HIV and AIDS.  Violators would face fines and up to six years in prison.

“Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell.  “This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”

“These proposals are a chilling threat to not only the LGBT community, but all Ukrainian citizens who deserve to live in a society where the fundamental rights of speech, expression, peaceful assembly and equality are protected,” said Rep. Joe Crowley.

“As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I am deeply disappointed to see some elements of the Ukrainian government supporting discrimination against members of the LGBT community,” said Rep. David Cicilline.  “We should never excuse these sorts of regressive proposals, and I look forward to working further to ensure that human rights are fully embraced across the world.”

“The LGBT community in Ukraine has seen a significant increase in targeted violence since the introductions of these bills. With homophobia on the rise in Ukraine, it’s crucial that the legislature protects the rights and freedoms of all its citizens,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.

Click here to read the letter

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’

Bipartisan Support for Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on International LGBT Rights

Capitol Hill ImageJune 28, 2011—Leaders of the LGBT Equality Caucus and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton last week welcoming her “leadership in responding to human rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals around the world.”  Quoting the Secretary’s statement at a Pride celebration last year, where she said that “human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights,” the letter, which was signed by 45 members of Congress, calls for the Secretary “to continue to build on that commitment.”

The letter was organized by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who helped launch the LGBT Equality Caucus in the last Congress, and it was endorsed both by the Republican Chariman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and the Ranking Democrat, Howard Berman (D-CA), who have both taken principled positions to promote the fundamental rights of LGBT communities through their foreign affairs leadership.  The letter details many of the State Department’s actions in support of LGBT rights over the past year, and it calls for additional information so that Congress can work with the State Department “to situate this agenda within our country’s broader human rights, public diplomacy and international development priorities.”  See a copy of the letter here.

Just this week, the Secretary renewed her commitment at another Pride celebration, where the LGBT employee group at the State Department (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) awarded the Secretary the group’s first-ever Equality Award.  See her remarks at this year’s Pride event here.

Frank Amendment on the Persecution of Sexual and Religious Minorities Passes the House Financial Services Committee

Press Release from the Office of Congressman Barney Frank

For Immediate Release

Contact: Harry Gural
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Phone: (202) 225-9400
Cell:  (202) 281-0670

Frank Amendment on the Persecution of Sexual and Religious Minorities Passes the House Financial Services Committee

WASHINGTON – Congressman Barney Frank, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, today introduced an amendment in the Committee which would have the effect of pressuring countries which persecute people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or religious belief.  Although most votes in the committee have broken along party lines, Congressman Frank’s amendment passed the Committee with near-unanimous support.  The text of the amendment follows:

The Committee urges Treasury to advocate that governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development institutions do not engage in gross violations of human rights, for example, the denial of freedom of religion, including the right to choose one’s own religion, and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“What we have seen in recent years is a pattern of gross violation of human rights in some countries – extreme physical persecution and even execution,” said Congressman Frank.  “In Uganda for example, which was the major beneficiary of our Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, there has been physical persecution of people who are sexual minorities.”

“The United States has a fairly influential voice in the development area.  And we should not be supportive of providing multilateral bank development funds going to the governments of countries which engage in the physical persecution of people because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Frank’s amendment will now be included in the language of House Financial Services Committee bill which outlines budget priorities for issues under its jurisdiction.  Because of the overwhelming support for Frank’s language in today’s deliberations, it is hoped that it will also garner support in the Budget Committee and in the House as a whole.

House Committee OKs End to Antigay Aid

Barney Frankrepost from The Advocate | by Michelle Garcia

The House Financial Services Committee passed an amendment Tuesday that would discourage giving aid to countries that persecute their citizens because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to a statement from Rep. Barney Frank (pictured), who introduced the amendment to the committee, the bill passed with nearly unanimous support. The amendment will be added to a House Financial Services Committee bill that outlines budget priorities for issues under the committee’s jurisdiction. According to Frank’s office, the Financial Services Committee’s overwhelming support for his amendment may lead to support in the Budget Committee and the full House.

The text of the amendment reads: “The Committee urges Treasury to advocate that governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development institutions do not engage in gross violations of human rights, for example, the denial of freedom of religion, including the right to choose one’s own religion, and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Frank cited Uganda, a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program, as an example of a country that openly abuses its LGBT citizens.

“The United States has a fairly influential voice in the development area,” Frank said Tuesday. “And we should not be supportive of providing multilateral bank development funds going to the governments of countries which engage in the physical persecution of people because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”


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