Posts Tagged 'Human Rights First'

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.

Human Rights: Advancing American Interests and Values

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice addressed the participants of the Human Rights First 2013 Summit in Washington DC yesterday, in her speech Amb. Rice stressed that advancing democracy and respect for human rights is central to this administrations foreign policy. In her remarks Rice noted that LGBT human rights is an important component in advancing this agenda. Amb. Rice noted,

No one–no one–should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.  So, we are working to lead internationally, as we have domestically, on LGBT issues. This summer, President Obama championed equal treatment for LGBT persons while standing next to the President of Senegal, a country that is making progress on democratic reforms, but like too many nations, still places criminal restrictions on homosexuality.  President Obama met with LGBT and other civil society activists in St. Petersburg, Russia to discuss the restrictions they face in Russia.  At the UN Human Rights Council and in regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States and the Pan American Health Organization, the United States has fought for and won support for resolutions that recognize the rights and protect the safety and dignity of LGBT persons.  We created the Global Equality Fund to protect LGBT rights and those who defend them.

After the speech, Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of Human Rights First, said in a statement,

Today’s speech was a welcome affirmation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting human rights at home and abroad. Ambassador Rice made a compelling case for why this effort is squarely in the national interest, arguing that short term trade-offs cannot alter our foundational values, and that respect for human rights is essential to our security.

Following her speech, Ambassador Rice met with human rights defenders from Bahrain, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and the international LGBT community.

Read the full speech here.

 

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.

Dignity For All: Reactions from LGBT and Human Rights Organizations

Repost from The Office of Public Engagement

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton articulated the first-ever U.S. Government strategy to direct all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

These actions represent a continuation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to safety, justice, and equality for LGBT people everywhere. President Obama expressed this commitment earlier this year at the United Nations General Assembly, when he said “No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.” And since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has strongly and consistently championed a comprehensive human rights agenda — one that specifically includes the protection of LGBT people. Continue reading ‘Dignity For All: Reactions from LGBT and Human Rights Organizations’

Human Rights First calls for the respect of fundamental freedoms of assembly and association

Gay Pride Parade

Repost from Human Rights First | by Innokenty Grekov

Human Rights First calls on governments to abide by commitments to respect the fundamental freedoms of assembly and association and to take adequate measures to ensure security and protection for all. However, many States have failed to fully ensure these fundamental freedoms, and a number of governments actively suppress them. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals have been particularly affected by this suppression of rights and continue the uphill struggle for the right to freedom of assembly and association.

Gay pride parades offer an opportunity for many LGBTI individuals to exercise the right to freedom of expression. Historically, gay pride parades have come to symbolize the resistance to intolerance and bigotry that surround LGBTI people in their daily lives. Restricting these peaceful demonstrations is particularly damaging and unacceptable. Continue reading ‘Human Rights First calls for the respect of fundamental freedoms of assembly and association’

Human Rights First Condemns Decision to Ban Moscow Gay Pride

Moscow Skyline, Moscow PridePress Statement from Council Member Human Rights First

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Human Rights First,
C: 202-279-0005, W: 202-265-3000 | Jessica@rabinowitz-dorf.com

New York, NY—Human Rights First condemns the decision by the Moscow authorities—issued on the International Day Against Homophobia—to deny permission for a Moscow gay pride event. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Moscow City Hall has banned such an event. City officials cited numerous letters from public officials, religious organizations and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. Similar bans were pronounced illegal by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in October 2010.

“We deeply regret the missed opportunity of the new Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to break with the discriminatory policies of his predecessor in this regard,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “Gay rights are human rights in Russia, just as they are in the rest of the world.  We call on the Moscow City Hall to reconsider the latest ban on Moscow Pride in line with the recent European Court of Human Rights verdict that upheld the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Russians to organize public events in accordance to the Russian Constitution.” Continue reading ‘Human Rights First Condemns Decision to Ban Moscow Gay Pride’

Human Rights Defenders Combating Discrimination to Receive 2010 Honors

Viktória Mohácsi (photo: taken from official EU MEP) and Julius Kaggwa (photo:Bronwynne Pereira)

Press Release from Human Rights First
CONTACT: Brenda Bowser Soder
bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org
C: 301-906-4460, W: 202-370-3323

New York City – Human Rights First will present its 2010 Human Rights Award to a renowned Hungarian advocate for the rights of the Roma people in Europe and a Ugandan activist on the front lines of defeating a draconian anti-homosexuality bill there. The group will honor this year’s recipients, Julius Kaggwa and Viktória Mohácsi, at its annual award dinner in New York City on Thursday, Oct. 21.

“Julius and Viktória are courageous leaders in the fight against discrimination and hate crimes in their own societies,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Human Rights First is pleased to honor these activists who—at great personal risk—stand up for the rights of those targeted for discrimination and abuse, Julius in Africa and Viktória in Europe. LGBTI persons and the Roma face prejudices that often are masked as socially acceptable in both parts of the world. In reality, such prejudices are at the root of widespread discrimination, marginalization, and outright violence. Despite death threats and ongoing danger to their own well-being, these two human rights advocates persevere in the struggle for equal opportunity and equal treatment for all. We draw strength from their resolve and their example. We are privileged to work with them and to honor their courage and achievements with this award.” Read the complete story

The Council for Global Equality submits shadow report to the U.S. Department of State

This week, the Council for Global Equality, together with Global Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Immigration Equality submitted a shadow report to the U.S. Department of State on how the United States could do a better job adhering to its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The report covered a variety of issues that impact the LGBT populations in the United States, and suggests recommendations for how the United States can more fully adhere to its promises under that international treaty. This report complements an earlier submission for the Universal Periodic Review – another mechanism that the United Nations utilizes to regularly monitor the human rights records of all its member nations. Read the full report here.


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