Posts Tagged 'OSCE'

Dr. Daniel Baer nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Baer, United States State Department

The Council for Global Equality is delighted to note that Dr. Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor, has been nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) based in Vienna. The OSCE is a multilateral organization that has a unique security perspective that recognizes that respect for human rights must be a cornerstone of security in our interconnected world. The OSCE brings countries from Asia, Europe and North America together to discuss shared security commitments, including commitments to safeguarding fundamental rights to freedom of association and expression and to respond to hate violence across the region.

Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, noted that: “In recent years, the OSCE has provided an important forum to denounce LGBT hate crimes and restrictions on LGBT organizations. As a strong champion of human rights for all, and an openly gay man who has stood firmly for equal treatment for LGBT individuals globally, we are delighted by this appointment and hope the U.S. Senate will act quickly to confirm him. Anti-LGBT measures are sweeping across Eastern Europe, including this week in Russia, and we know that Dan will be uniquely positioned to speak out against these threats to human rights and human security in Europe.”

U.S. Amb. Ian Kelly Statement On LGBT Rights In Russian Federation And Moldova

US Ambassador Ian Kelly, OSCEGeneva, Switzerland
Ambassador Ian Kelly

March 22, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We take this moment to subscribe to the joint statement of Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway delivered at the Permanent Council on March 15, which articulated concerns about the newly adopted legislation in St. Petersburg, Russia, banning “public action aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors,” as well as the recent administrative decisions in several Moldovan municipalities which aim to prohibit the promotion of “non-traditional sexual orientations” and to prohibit “homosexual demonstrations.”

We are concerned when institutionally adopted decisions and legislative initiatives purposely attempt to discriminate against certain groups. The St. Petersburg legislation and the Moldovan administrative decisions violate the fundamental freedoms of persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. They are at odds with regional and international human rights standards, including the 1990 Copenhagen Document, which lays the foundation for our collective OSCE commitments on nondiscrimination.

For over twenty years, the OSCE has worked determinedly to combat all forms of discrimination, underscoring the vital role that tolerance and understanding play in achieving and preserving stable democratic societies. In 2009, we took an important step forward when we committed to the Athens Ministerial Decision on Combating Hate Crimes, which further developed OSCE principles on tolerance and non-discrimination and created new commitments for participating States on hate crimes. This decision recognized that “manifestations of discrimination and intolerance threaten the security of individuals and societal cohesion.”

We note further that recently, the United Nations Human Rights Council held its first dedicated discussion on the issue of discrimination and violence on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In a moving speech to the Council on March 7th, UN Secretary-General Ban observed that “discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender . . . is also a violation of international law.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also noted that laws that criminalize same-sex relations, or contain vague prohibitions that are applied in a discriminatory way to prosecute lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people not only breach international human rights law, but also cause unnecessary suffering, reinforce stigma, fuel violence and undermine efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In light of the wide-ranging OSCE commitments described above to which all participating States have agreed, we urge relevant authorities in Russia and Moldova to reverse these actions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Remembering LGBT Hate Crimes in October

Hate Crime October 7, 2011 – Thirteen years ago this week, Matthew Shepard was attacked and left to die on a deserted road in Laramie, Wyoming. The month of October, in addition to being LGBT history month, is also an appropriate month to remember the tragic legacy of LGBT hate violence. Matthew Shepard was killed in October. Eleven years later, in October 2009, President Obama signed a law named after Matthew Shepard that extends federal authority over LGBT hate crimes. And every October, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also meets in Warsaw, Poland to discuss a range of human rights issues in Europe and North America, including persistent patterns of hate violence targeting LGBT individuals.

The OSCE is an obscure but influential international organization that focuses on a range of security and human rights issues. Created as a mechanism to engage the Soviet Union and its satellite states, in the messy aftermath of the Cold War, the OSCE has emerged as an important platform for promoting tolerance and non-discrimination. Every October the OSCE holds a human rights conference in Warsaw, and for several years now, the issue of LGBT rights has been an important topic. During the Bush administration, the United States worked with the Vatican to block discussion of LGBT human rights concerns. In the Obama administration, the United States is now one of the leading voices insisting that the OSCE must respond to LGBT concerns in Europe and North America. Indeed, the head of the official U.S. delegation to the meeting, Ambassador David Johnson, addressed a reception on Wednesday that was dedicated to the many LGBT activists who traveled to Warsaw to expose the violence that continues to shatter lives and destabilize communities. Continue reading ‘Remembering LGBT Hate Crimes in October’

Concern about Freedom of Assembly in Russia

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release: May 29, 2011

2011/855

STATEMENT BY MARK TONER, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

Concern about Freedom of Assembly in Russia

We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured according to media reports.

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process.  We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.

###

News from the Council for Global Equality

Read the November 2010 newsletter from the Council for Global Equality.

We’ve been busy this fall promoting a U.S. foreign policy inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. I hope you’ll read more about our work and join us in promoting global equality today.

  • Council Celebrates Two Years of Advocacy
  • Council Meets with Under Secretary of State Maria Otero
  • US Record on LGBT Rights Reviewed at UN Human Rights Council
  • Council Facilitates Amsterdam Summit of National LGBT Groups
  • Council Raises LGBT Hate Crimes and Discrimination at Human Rights Conference in Warsaw
  • Are Multinational Corporations Caring More About Their LGBT Employees Around the World?

Ambassador Michael Guest Interview at the 2010 OSCE Review Conference Warsaw, Poland (video)

From the U.S. Mission to the OSCE
As the OSCE Review Conference drew to a close, Head of the U.S. Delegation,  Ambassador Michael Guest, talks about the role of the OSCE, the value of such conferences, and the importance of Non-Governmental Organization access.

LGBT participation at the 2010 OSCE Review Conference Warsaw, Poland (video)

Mark Bromley, Council Chair of The Council for Global Equality as well as organizations such as ILGA-Europe, Campaign Against Homophobia-Poland, COC Netherlands and Genderdoc-Moldova are interviewed about sexual orientation and gender identity and how they relate to the The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Gay diplomat presses LGBT issues at int’l conference

photo: OSCE/Curtis Budden

Washington Blade | Chris Johnson | Oct 21, 2010

A gay diplomat led a U.S. delegation at an international conference earlier this month that touched on the importance of LGBT rights as a human rights issue.

Michael Guest, former U.S. ambassador to Romania, headed a delegation of about 25 U.S. diplomats during the human rights portion of an annual review conference for the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe. The review conference took place between Sept. 30 and Oct. 8 in Warsaw, Poland.

The Warsaw Review Conference was a primer engagement for trans-Atlantic countries to discuss human rights principles — including hate crimes against LGBT people and the freedom to association to have Pride celebrations across the globe — in anticipation of a later OSCE summit that this year is set to take place in December in Astana, Kazakhstan.

In an interview with the Washington Blade, Guest said that his sexual orientation made his designation as head of the delegation representational of the Obama administration’s stated principle that international LGBT rights are human rights.

“I also think that it made an impact with other delegations,” Guest added. “It was clearly a prominent feature of my biography, so there were a number of delegation members that come and it’s representative in their eyes as a sense of progress that an openly gay man would be appointed.”

Still, Guest said he thinks his 26-year service as a diplomat was the primary reason he was selected for the position and noted that during much of his career he focused on OSCE policy.

“I dealt with it at the time when all these changes were happening in Europe in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and when most of the commitments on fundamental freedoms and human rights were signed by the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union and the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe,” he said.

Guest attained notoriety in 2007 when he retired from the State Department in protest because it didn’t offer certain benefits — such as security training and free medical care — to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service officers. The situation has since been rectified by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, which took part in the review conference as an non-governmental organization, said the selection of an out gay man to lead the U.S. delegation was significant because previous administrations have been reluctant to incorporate LGBT issues in foreign policy.

“The United States in the past has been reluctant to address LGBT concerns within this forum,” Bromley said. “I think the fact that they selected Michael Guest as someone who is openly gay and works with organizations that promote issues on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was an important statement.” continue reading story

Discussion to Combat Hate Crimes and Promote Tolerance and Non-discrimination

 

Michael Gues | photo: OSCE/Curtis Budden

 

Warsaw, Poland, October 6, 2010 – During a discussion of efforts to combat hate crimes and promote tolerance and non-discrimination at an international human rights conference of the OSCE (which includes all of Europe and North America), the head of the U.S. delegation, former U.S. Ambassador and Council adviser Michael Guest, put aside his official statement to speak directly to delegates “from the heart.”  He offered a very personal and very forceful appeal to collected governments to implement effective hate crimes protections for all minority communities, including LGBT individuals.  He noted his personal experience as the victim of a gay hate crime, and he reminded diplomats in the room that the commitments they make have profound, daily consequences in the lives of ordinary people.  At the end of the meeting, in response to a hostile NGO that equated homosexuality with pedophilia and necrophilia, Guest noted how offensive such a connection was, and that such inflammatory allegations are in fact the sorts of statements that can lead to hate crimes.

While much of the meeting focused on hate crimes directed at religious and ethnic minorities, several other governments joined Guest in condemning LGBT violence, as did several NGOs.  As a civil society representative, Mark Bromley, speaking for the Council for Global Equality and joined by two Europe-based LGBT organizations, called on all governments that have not already done so to adopt hate crimes laws that recognize LGBT bias as an aggravating circumstance with enhanced and effective penalties.  Invoking the year-old Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the United States, and honoring the memory of Matthew Shepard, who was brutally assaulted twelve years ago this week, Bromley noted that “today, Matthew’s murder is recognized as a national tragedy; the fact that similar tragedies have been repeated so often across the entire OSCE region is a shameful reality.”  A representative of Amulet, an LGBT organization from Kazakhstan, also called on the OSCE to address targeted violence against LGBT communities in Central Asia.

Redeemed Lives, a U.S. organization, took the floor to speak against this “over-broad” human rights agenda.  Their representative spoke earlier in the two-week meeting to declare that “for some, freedom to safely self-identify as gay or lesbian is emancipation. For others, like myself, freedom from unwanted same‐sex attraction is emancipation.” Redeemed Lives suggested that “over-broad” definitions of hate speech and “fixed” definitions of gender identity have impeded the ability of individuals “to find therapists equipped to help them” overcome homosexuality, noting that “unwanted sexual attractions can . . . be effectively resisted and changed.” While others also spoke against the broad recognition of LGBT rights, including the NGO delegate who suggested the connection to pedophilia and necrophilia, these were tragically fringe statements, raised in the face of the OSCE’s effort to address LGBT violence as part of its broad tolerance and non-discrimination work.


Stay Informed

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 158 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158 other followers