Posts Tagged 'Obama'

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

High Hopes as Obama Prepares to Meet with Russian Gay Activists

President Obama is set to meet with a group of human rights advocates in Russia

Photo: Michael Kay, Washington Blade

Repost from the Washington Blade

President Obama is set to meet with a group of human rights advocates in Russia on Friday, including representatives of LGBT rights groups and many observers are hopeful that he will take the opportunity to express continued opposition to the country’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law.

During a stopover in Stockholm on Wednesday, Obama expressed solidarity with Sweden during opening remarks at a news conference by saying both the Nordic country and the United States have a shared belief in equality under the law, including for gay citizens.

“We share a belief in the dignity and equality of every human being; that our daughters deserve the same opportunities as our sons; that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law; that our societies are strengthened and not weakened by diversity,” Obama said.

Obama restated his support for LGBT equality as he prepared to meet with Russian human rights groups and LGBT groups during his visit to St. Petersburg for the annual G-20 summit.

A White House official told the Washington Blade that Obama intends to meet with “civil society representatives” during his trip on Friday and LGBT groups were invited to the meeting.

“The president will meet with Russian civil society leaders to discuss the important role civil society plays in promoting human rights and tolerance,” the official said. “Invited are representatives from groups supporting human rights, the environment, free media, and LGBT rights, among others.”

Obama meets with these activists — as well as leaders from G-20 countries — at a time when he’s pushing for military engagement in Syria over the use of the chemical weapons in the country. That issue will likely play a large role in the discussions — at least with leaders from G-20 nations.

But LGBT advocates who work on international issues told the Washington Blade the meeting with human rights activists provides a stage to draw attention to the condition of human rights in Russia, including the situation for LGBT people. Continue Reading

President Rejects Calls to Boycott Olympics Over Anti-Gay Law

President Barack ObamaRepost from The Hill

President Obama on Friday rejected calls for the United States to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

“I know that one question that’s been raised is, how do we approach the Olympics? I want to just make very clear right now I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics. We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed,” Obama said.

Some have said the U.S. should skip the Games in Sochi, Russia, over the country’s harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Others have pushed the boycott to protest Russia’s treatment of gays and lesbians.

A law passed by Russia in June would ban “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” It would also levy fines on people staging gay pride rallies.

Obama spoke out against the law earlier this week and reiterated that criticism on Friday.

“Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia,” Obama said. “But as I said just this week, I’ve spoken out against that, not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries where we continue to do work with them, but we have a strong disagreement on this issue.”

Obama said gay athletes from the United States could change attitudes in Russia by excelling at the Games.

“And one of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there,” he said.

Obama also said the Russian Olympic team would be weaker if gays and lesbians were not allowed to represent the country.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it needs more clarification on the Russian law before it moves ahead with preparations for the games, according to The Associated Press. Watch a video of President Obama’s Speech

Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.  This was discrimination enshrined in law.  It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people.  The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.  We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.  How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts:  when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Obama unveils LGBT-inclusive immigration plan

obama-immigrationreform-jan2013Repost from The Washington Blade

Before a cheering audience at a Las Vegas high school, President Obama unveiled on Tuesday his much anticipated plan for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a provision aimed at ensuring bi-national same-sex couples can stay together in the United States.

In a speech before supporters at Del Sol High School, Obama emphasized the need to pass comprehensive legislation to fix problems in the U.S. immigration code, but didn’t explicitly mention the provision in his plan that would enable gay Americans to sponsor foreign same-sex partners for residency in the United States.

“I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long,” Obama said. “I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.”

Obama’s plan has four major parts: 1) enhancing border security; 2) cracking down on companies that hire undocumented workers; 3) holding undocumented immigrants “accountable” before they earn citizenship by, among other things, requiring them to pay back taxes with a penalty and learn English; and 4) streamlining the legal immigration system for families, workers and employers.

The president’s commitment to bi-national same-sex couples is found under the fourth pillar of his plan under the heading, “Keep Families Together.” Continue Reading

Related Content:

White House Fact Sheet: Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules

Immigration Equality Praises President’s Proposal in Favor of LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

John McCain: LGBT Issues ‘Best Way To Derail’ Immigration Bill

Council Releases NGO Guide to Human Rights

In Recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO):

Washington, DC – May 17, 2012 – The Council released a new NGO guide, Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

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The guide highlights the various diplomatic tools that U.S. embassies use to advance a range of human rights and development objectives, from diplomatic “démarches,” to support for LGBT refugees to the drafting of the annual human rights report that is required of every U.S. embassy.  It also looks at various opportunities that exist for U.S. embassies to support, both technically and financially, LGBT advocates in host countries.

The guide recognizes that U.S. embassies around the world have traditionally reached out to civil society organizations and local human rights defenders to support a broad human rights agenda.  Until recently, however, U.S. embassies rarely included LGBT civil society organizations or defenders in their outreach.  That has now changed, and U.S. embassies are reaching out to local LGBT groups to learn more about the human rights abuses that LGBT communities experience, and to explore opportunities to partner with civil society to address those abuses.

The guide points out that U.S. embassy support for the human rights and human dignity of LGBT communities reflects, in part, America’s attempt to promote fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and expression.  As such, the guide helps human rights defenders in other countries ground their requests in language that relates back to freedoms rooted in America’s Constitution, and that enjoy strong bipartisan support even amid other debates in Washington.

While focusing on the needs of one particularly invisible and at-risk group of human rights defenders, the Council also uses the guide to paint a broad justification for the inclusion of LGBT groups in U.S. human rights policy.   When U.S. embassies use the diplomatic, economic and political tools that are available to them to promote the rights and social inclusion of marginalized communities, including LGBT individuals, they stand firmly for human rights, but they also help foster tolerant, democratic and diverse societies that make better diplomatic allies and stronger economic partners over the longer term.


Analysis: The global impact of Obama’s support for gay marriage

President Barack Obama, Supports Gay Marriage

(Pete Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

The president’s decision represents a “next generation” for whom LGBT equality is a given.

May 10, 2012–As an LGBT rights advocate, I have experienced so many proud moments with our president. Our community in the United States can count a number of major achievements during President Obama’s tenure: an inclusive hate crimes law; the repeal of the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; and the hugely important decision that the attorney general will longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

So when the rumors started buzzing yesterday morning that Obama was about to announce his support for marriage equality, it was yet another exciting moment of tangible progress in our country and by our president. When I watched the ABC interview, I was most struck by the weight he gave to his conversations around the dinner table with his daughters, who themselves have friends with lesbian and gay parents. Obama acknowledged that his daughters’ perspectives have helped him evolve: “It wouldn’t even dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently.” Continue reading ‘Analysis: The global impact of Obama’s support for gay marriage’


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