Archive Page 2

Obama’s Evangelical Gravy Train

HIV Billboard

Photo: Andy Kopsa

Repost from The Nation by Andy Kopsa

Despite the president’s promise to cut funding to discredited HIV and pregnancy prevention programs, taxpayer dollars are still bankrolling anti-gay, anti-choice conservative religious groups.

On March 24, just a month after Ugandan President Museveni signed a bill making homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison, Obama administration officials announced that they were increasing military aid to Uganda in its effort to quell rebel forces. Human rights groups criticized the move, arguing that the aid offered Museveni “legitimacy” after he supported a law that has been widely condemned for violating human rights. The same day, a State Department spokesperson quietly announced that the administration would also “demonstrate our support for the LGBT community in Uganda” by shifting $6.4 million in funding away from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, whose actions, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, “don’t reflect our values.” That may be the understatement of the year.

According to Ugandan AIDS activists, administration officials had been told a year and a half earlier that the Inter-Religious Council and other State Department grantees were actively promoting the antigay bill. In September 2012, several LGBT and AIDS advocates in Uganda were invited to a call with representatives from USAID, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator and other US officials to discuss HIV service delivery to vulnerable communities. According to minutes taken by one of the participants and conversations with others on the call, the US officials were warned that several grantees and subcontractors through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, commonly referred to as PEPFAR, were visibly supporting the bill, undermining service delivery to men who have sex with men, or otherwise fomenting anti-gay activities. US officials asked the Ugandan activists to provide information on these actions by the US government’s so-called “implementing partners,” and told them that such evidence might lead to an investigation by US officials. Continue Reading

 

Tierney Introduces Bipartisan International Human Rights Defense Act

John F. TierneyFrom the Office of John F. Tierney

Bill would make LGBT equality a critical U.S. international human rights priority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA), along with Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY), introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act. This bipartisan legislation would direct the U.S. Department of State to make international LGBT human rights a foreign policy priority and would establish a position within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to be responsible for coordinating that effort.

“While the United States has been making strides toward promoting and achieving LGBT equality here in our country, this is unfortunately not the case globally. We must lead the fight to help end discrimination and secure basic human rights for LGBT individuals around the world,” said Congressman John Tierney. “The International Human Rights Defense Act would bolster America’s commitment to the international LGBT community by facilitating federal government coordination on making the promotion of international LGBT human rights a priority. As the United States continues its steady movement toward providing fundamental human rights for all people regardless of who they love, it is our obligation to fight for those same rights for LGBT individuals facing hardships in other countries.”

 “I am proud to join with Reps. Tierney, Hanna, Cicilline, Esty,Lowenthal, McGovern and Schakowsky to introduce this important legislation.  For the first time in the history of our country, we are aiming to establish a concrete policy and process by which we can best deploy our considerable diplomatic clout and resources towards protecting victims of LGBT discrimination,” said Congressman Chris Gibson.  “On our best day, other countries want to be like us, and for that reason it is crucial that we lead by example with our founding principles of human dignity, freedom, and equal protection.  I encourage all of my colleagues to join us in this effort.”

“Discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation is unacceptable anywhere it happens,” Congressman Richard Hanna said. “In the United States we are continuing to work toward full equality and tolerance for all Americans, including our LGBT friends, family members and coworkers. There is still much work to be done at home and around the world. As a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all people, the U.S. must continue to play a leading role in this effort. No one should face unjust treatment – or be classified as a criminal – based on who they love. It is a basic human right that all people deserve. I am pleased to join Reps. Tierney and Gibson in this effort and I look forward to more bipartisan support from our colleagues in the House.”

“While the United States has made huge strides forward for LGBT equality, we know that the same is not true in many countries where LGBT people face harassment, bigotry, and violence on a daily basis,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Global human rights – including human rights for LGBT people – must be a top priority of the U.S. Government.  The Human Rights Campaign is proud to support the International Human Rights Defense Act, which would build an unprecedented framework into U.S. diplomacy to protect LGBT rights worldwide.  We thank Congressman Tierney for his leadership on this important issue.”

“Around the globe, LGBT people face threats, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis,” said Amnesty International USA Executive Director, Steven Hawkins. “The United States can and must play a lead role in ending the human rights abuses that the LGBT community faces around the world. The International Human Rights Defense Act will help to ensure that the United States lives up to its global commitment to protect and advance LGBT rights as human rights.”

“Around the world, LGBT individuals are denied the fundamental freedoms that every American holds dear, and the universal human rights their governments have pledged to respect.  A Special Envoy can work with other countries to strengthen these freedoms and commitments, and to ensure that cultural differences are not an excuse for discrimination and abuse.  The Council for Global Equality welcomes this bill’s introduction and urges its speedy passage,” said Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor, Council for Global Equality.

 “We support Rep. Tierney for taking leadership in the House on the issue of rights for LGBTI persons,” said Chloe Schwenke, vice president for global programs at Freedom House. “Freedom House welcomes the genuine bipartisan base of support for fundamental human rights performance as covered by this bill. The legislation, which is the House companion of the International Human Rights Defense Act introduced by Sen. Ed Markey in the Senate last month, would solidify the United States’ commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTI people around the world.  It is vital that the United States support these communities through foreign assistance and diplomacy, and this legislation would give the State Department and USAID additional tools to do so.”

The International Human Rights Defense Act is supported by a number of prominent equality organizations including Amnesty International USA, Council for Global Equality, RFK Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Freedom House, Human Rights First, American Jewish World Service, National Center for Transgender Equality, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Advocates for Youth.

Similar legislation was recently filed in the Senate by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). A full list of original cosponsors: Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

Video: Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at the GLIFAA Pride Event

If you cannot see the video please follow this link

On June 19, Secretary of State, John Kerry addressed the audience at the LGBT+ Pride in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) LGBT pride celebration.

For a written transcript click here

The Department of State Joins the World in Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Department_of_state.svgRepost from the U.S. Department of State

The Department of State joins the world in celebrating LGBT Pride Month and reaffirms its commitment to the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBT persons around the globe.

In the United States, we have made marked progress in tearing down the unjust and unfair barriers that have prevented the full realization of the human rights of LGBT persons. We know there is more to do, but here, the arc of history is bending towards justice.

I was proud to join my colleagues at our Embassy in London last August to announce that, going forward, same-sex spouses who applied for visas would have their applications considered in the same manner as those of opposite-sex spouses.

And just this week, President Obama announced his intention to sign an Executive Order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In many places around the world, however, trends are running in the opposite direction. LGBT individuals and their allies are harassed, arrested, and even killed because of who they are and the work they do. Governments are enacting laws that discriminate against LGBT individuals and their allies and restrict their fundamental human rights.

The United States strongly condemns these discriminatory acts and legislation and is working every day, both here in Washington and at our embassies and consulates around the world, to ensure that all persons can exercise their human rights, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We raise the human rights of LGBT persons both publicly and privately, and we support civil society organizations who are working on the frontlines to ensure equality and dignity for all. Through the Global Equality Fund – a partnership supported by 14 like-minded governments, foundations, corporations and non-profit organizations – the Department of State has allocated more than $9 million for both emergency and long term LGBT-related programming in more than 50 countries worldwide.

This important work, done in conjunction with allies from civil society, faith communities, the private sector and other governments, is central to our foreign policy.

So, to the activists, allies, and LGBT individuals on the front lines combatting discrimination, you have a partner in the United States. I stand with you and I wish you safe and happy 2014 Pride celebrations.

Related Content: Read Secretary Kerry’s remarks at the GLIFAA pride celebration

The Council for Global Equality Welcomes the White House Efforts to Protect Human Rights in Uganda

The_White_House,_WashingtonThe Council for Global Equality welcomes today’s White House announcement of new, concrete steps in our country’s bilateral relationship with Uganda in response to President Museveni’s decision to sign into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act earlier this year.  These steps reaffirm the importance the U.S. attaches to a foreign policy that prioritizes respect for the human rights of all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – an important legacy of this Administration.

We take note in particular the announcement of new visa restrictions aimed at restricting entry to those deemed responsible for human rights abuses, including those enabled by this heinous law, and other corrupt practices.  In taking this action, the Administration has placed responsibility where it should lie – with those individuals who have enacted the new law, not the broader Ugandan people.  We urge that a speedy review of visa eligibility be the template for prospective U.S. responses whenever human rights are abridged, or corrupt practices undertaken, in any country.

The Administration’s new steps place appropriate emphasis on anti-LGBT police actions, our bilateral security relationship, and the broad areas in which the U.S. engages with Uganda on sound health policy.  We urge a continued dialogue in each of these areas aimed at ensuring the effective use of U.S. taxpayer funding in each of these areas, and particularly to ensuring that the health needs of men who have sex with men continue to be met.  We further urge that the Administration ensure that no organization charged with providing PEPFAR-funded services is allowed to take steps that deliberately undercut the effectiveness of those services, as was the case with actions taken by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda in supporting enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Finally, we note that Uganda is not the only government that has taken, in recent months, steps to further criminalize homosexual relations and relationships.  We have been proud to applaud the Administration’s policy of standing for LGBT human and civil rights abroad.  However, a global policy requires a globally consistent response, which to date has not been the case.  We ask that the Administration review, in equal measure, how to respond to similar anti-democratic actions in Nigeria, Russia, and other countries where government officials have put LGBT people at increased risk of abuse.

For more information on the steps the White House is taking click here.

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the Response to Uganda’s Enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act

Further U.S. Efforts to Protect Human Rights in Uganda

Statement from The White House
Written by Grant Harris and Stephen Pomper

Our hopes for a more peaceful and just world depend on respect for the rights and dignity of all people. It is for this reason that our foreign policy champions human rights and opposes violence and discrimination that targets people because of who they are and whom they love. President Obama’s groundbreaking Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 reflected this commitment by directing the federal government to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT people abroad.

We have seen extraordinary advances for LGBT rights in the United States and in many countries around the world. But some governments have challenged this progress, with results that not only endanger local LGBT communities, but also pose a setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice, and equal rights.

The Government of Uganda’s enactment of the “Anti-Homosexuality Act” is precisely such a step in the wrong direction. As President Obama made clear in February, the enactment of the AHA is more than an affront to the LGBT community in Uganda — it calls into question the Government of Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of all its people, and complicates our bilateral relationship.

After thorough consideration, the U.S. government is taking a number of actions to underscore the critical importance we place on human rights and fighting against discrimination, protecting vulnerable populations, respecting freedom of expression and association, and advancing inclusive governance. In particular:

  • Restricting entry to the United States. We want human rights abusers, worldwide, to know their misdeeds are not unnoticed and would-be human rights abusers to understand that there are consequences for engaging in such actions. The State Department is therefore taking steps consistent with its current authorities (including Presidential Proclamation 8697) to restrict the entry into the United States of specific Ugandan individuals involved in serious violations or abuses of human rights, including those determined to have committed such violations or abuses against LGBT individuals. While we will not identify the individuals whom we have watch-listed in line with confidentiality requirements, this step makes clear our commitment to sanctioning individuals determined to have perpetrated human rights abuses or who are responsible for such acts in the future. In addition, the United States will also take steps consistent with current authorities to restrict entry into the United States by Ugandans who are found responsible for significant public corruption.
  • Ceasing support for Uganda’s community policing program. We are very concerned about the extent to which the Ugandan police may be involved in abusive activities undertaken in the name of implementing the AHA. These concerns relate to the April 3 raid on a U.S.-funded public health program at Makerere University, as well as credible reports of individuals detained and abused while in police custody. Therefore, even as we continue to press the police at every level to fulfill their responsibility to protect all Ugandans, we will also be discontinuing a $2.4 million program in support for the Uganda Police Force community-policing program.
  • Redirecting certain financial support for the Ministry of Health (MOH) to other partners. We remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting the health needs of the Ugandan people, but we seek to invest in partners and programs that share our commitment to equal access and our evidence-based approach to medicine and science. We are accordingly shifting a portion of our financial support for MOH salaries, travel expenses, and other items to health-related activities being undertaken by non-governmental partners in Uganda. These modifications will focus on MOH central headquarters staff in order to avoid negatively affecting health care workers and direct service providers in Uganda.
  • Relocating funds for a planned public health institute and other measures relating to health programming. For similar reasons, we are relocating to another African country the planned establishment of a National Public Health Institute, for which we would have provided approximately $3 million in funding. We have also relocated a National Institutes of Health genomics meeting from Uganda to South Africa.
  • Cancelling a military aviation exercise. We have also cancelled plans to conduct the Department of Defense’s Africa Partnership Flight exercise in Uganda. This was intended to be a United States African Command (AFRICOM)-sponsored aviation exercise with other East African partners.

These steps are in addition to the measures that we announced in March. Among other things, we took steps at that time to redirect funding away from program implementers whose actions called into question their willingness to serve all people in need, to shift certain military and intelligence engagements to other locations, and to suspend certain near-term invitational travel for Ugandan military and police officials.

In taking the measures that we have described, the U.S. government is mindful of the wide range of issues encompassed by our relationship with Uganda — including our development and humanitarian support for the Ugandan people, our efforts to counter the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army, and a partnership that advances our security interests in the region. We will seek to advance these interests while also working with both governmental and non-governmental partners to end discrimination against LGBT people in Uganda and around the world — a struggle central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.

Grant Harris currently serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Council. Stephen Pomper is the Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council.

U.S. Agency for International Development Releases its LGBT Vision for Action

USAID“This Vision outlines our Agency’s commitment—both in Washington and abroad—to include LGBT considerations in every area of our work, and in every place we work.” – Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID

This past May, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released its LGBT Vision for Action, a first of its kind U.S. Government policy document designed to demonstrate the Agency’s commitment to LGBT inclusion. The Vision provides a set of overarching core principles for engagement and further socializes LGBT inclusion throughout the Agency. USAID’s vision is a “world in which the human rights of LGBT persons are respected and free from discrimination, persecution, and violence—because all people should have access to basic education, health, and sustainable livelihoods.”

Learn more about USAID’s LGBT Vision for Action, its LGBT inclusive development work, and updated fact sheet on the Agency’s LGBT programs and policies.


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