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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.

Advancing the Human Rights of LGBT Persons in Partnership With the Private Sector

Assistant Secretary Malinowski

Assistant Secretary Malinowski Addresses Global Equality Fund

Reblog from DipNote, written by Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski

Last week during a reception held in the Treaty Room of the Department of State, I was proud to address a group of America’s leading corporations and encourage them to take steps to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world.

In the 21st century, promoting universal human rights and non-discrimination can’t be the job of governments alone.  We need our business leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs to lend their ideas, energy, and support.

Why? Advancing LGBT human rights isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.  Corporations want to invest in countries that respect the rule of law and provide protections for their employees.  They want to promote policies and work in environments that allow them to recruit the best and brightest and where their employees can bring their best to work every day.  Laws that discriminate against LGBT persons and the businesses that support and employ them — like the laws recently passed in Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia — threaten the stability that businesses desire and risk the safety of their employees, and jeopardize productive economic relationships that can advance corporate interests around the world. Continue Reading

Council for Global Equality Co-Sponsoring Two Films at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival

San Francisco International LGBT Film FestivalThe Council for Global Equality is proud to be a Frameline Community Sponsor for the 38th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival  taking place in San Francisco from June 19 through June 29. We are co-sponsoring two films, along with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), both with a Russia focus, Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda and Pussy vs. Putin. Follow the links for each film to learn more, get show times, and buy tickets.

Following the film screening of Campaign of Hate (June 22), Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council, will be participate in a panel discussion with the film’s co-director Michael Lucas.

Both films are a great primer into the complex world of human rights in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. We hope to see you there! If you aren’t in San Francisco please share with people you know who are.

 

 

More than 170 International Groups Demand Protection of LGBT Free Expression 

More than 170 international groups demand protection of LGBT free expression

On International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) over 170 organizations from all over the world (including The Council for Global Equality) call on states to protect LGBT freedom of expression and end violence against LGBT individuals and communities.

“Over recent years, we’ve seen a clampdown on LGBT expression in many countries, with repressive legislation being introduced and a culture of violence and intimidation limiting the diversity of LGBT voices in the media,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19

“This IDAHOT, hundreds of free expression, human rights, and LGBT groups have joined together to demand that all states protect LGBT expression. Free expression is a fundamental human right and can never be restricted on the basis of sexual or gender identity,” added Hughes.

The Global Call was a joint initiative by ARTICLE 19, Amnesty International, IDAHO Committee and IFEX and is part of a program of work ARTICLE 19 has been involved in to protect LGBT free expression internationally.

  • Read the Global Call and see the wide range of organizations demanding LGBT free expression.
  • Follow #IDAHOTSpeakUp and #NoSilence to join the discussion about LGBT free speech online.
  • Join ARTICLE 19’s social media Thunderclap right now to add your support before IDAHOT on Sat 17 May!
  • Read a joint statement by UN experts to mark IDAHOT 2014

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

This week we join with the worldwide LGBT community in celebrating IDAHOT – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Celebrated on May 17 – the 1990 date when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases – IDAHO is a call to conscience that the rights of LGBT people around the world remain under attack. For many LGBT communities worldwide, celebrating Gay Pride isn’t an option, or comes with great risk to personal safety and security. Being openly LGBT, in fact, can be an invitation to harassment and abuse, and even death. Here in the U.S., IDAHO can bring back the awareness that sexual orientation and gender identity are not only to be celebrated, but also require us to defend our rights. We can use IDAHO to redouble our commitment to ensure respect, fairness, and equality for LGBT people every where.

Resources:

Visit Day Against Homophobia for a list of events by country

Joint Statement by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski and Finnish Ambassador to the United States Ritva Koukku-Rondeon the Occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Secretary of State, John F. Kerry’s Statement “Commemorating International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Joint Statement by UN human rights experts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Visit Human Rights Watch “African Voices Celebrate LGBT Equality” webpage.

Join ORAM’s Thunderclap campaign for IDAHOT 2014

Read HRC’s Op-Ed “Equality at Home and Abroad and the inaugural issue of “Equality Rising


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