Archive for March, 2011

Key U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council

repost from
Fact Sheet
Washington, DC
March 30, 2011

This September will mark the two-year anniversary of U.S. membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council. U.S. engagement at the Council has led to a number of new mechanisms to spotlight and address serious human rights concerns and focused international attention to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers. Much work remains before the Council can fully realize its mandate as the international community’s focal point for the protection and promotion of human rights. The United States will continue to work hard to diminish the Council’s biased disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it. Continue reading ‘Key U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council’

Obama administration calls on United Nations to support gay rights

repost from the LA Times

‘Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love,’ Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe says. The move is the latest by Obama in support of gay rights.

By Julie Mianecki, Washington Bureau

March 23, 2011

Reporting from Washington— 
The Obama administration Tuesday called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world.

”Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love,” Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. ambassador to the council in Geneva, said in a statement. “The U.S. government is firmly committed to supporting the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to lead productive and dignified lives, free from fear and violence.”

The council has condemned human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including rape, torture and murder.

”It is a really pressing issue globally that there continue to be killings on the basis of sexual orientation and persecution on that basis,” said Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of State for international organization affairs. “I think this will stimulate dialogue and increase recognition of the importance of the issue among governments.”

The Obama administration’s expression of support for U.N. action on the issue marks a change from George W. Bush’s presidency. His administration generally sidestepped the issue in the United Nations.

The statement was the most recent in a series of moves by the Obama administration to show support for gay rights, including holding that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, was unconstitutional and moving to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays in the military.

Last weekend, in a statement with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, President Obama announced the creation of a government position to monitor gay rights in the Western Hemisphere.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, said the U.S. was finally stepping into the role it should have held all along as a worldwide leader in promoting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“For those who have been denied their equality for decades, change will never come soon enough,” Sainz said. “But there should also be no doubt that in the past two years more positive change for and on behalf of gay people has been made than ever before.”

Statement by the Press Secretary on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
March 22, 2011

President Obama believes that advancing the human rights of minorities and the marginalized is a fundamental American value. The President was pleased to announce during his trip to Brazil that he and President Rousseff agreed to promote respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals through the establishment of a special rapporteur on LGBT issues at the Organization of American States.  This special rapporteur will be the first of its kind in the international system.

Over the past months our diplomats have been engaged in frank, and at times difficult, conversations about the human rights of LGBT persons with governments from around world. This morning, at the United Nations Human Rights Council, some 85 countries joined the United States in reaffirming our joint commitment to end acts of violence and human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The President is proud of the work we have done to build international consensus on this critical issue and is committed to continuing our determined efforts to advance the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Human Rights Council Statement on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

March 22, 2011

Today, 85 countries from every region of the world joined together in a historic moment to state clearly that human rights apply to everyone, no matter who they are or whom they love.

The United States, along with Colombia and Slovenia, took a leading role on this statement along with over 30 cosponsors. Countries around the world participated including many that had never supported such efforts. And we hope that even more countries will step up, sign on to the statement and signal their support for universal human rights.

This statement is an example of America’s commitment to human rights through dialogue, open discussion and frank conversation with countries we don’t always agree with on every issue. In Geneva, our conversations about the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals with countries where sexual orientation is not only stigmatized, but criminalized, are helping to advance a broader and deeper global dialogue about these issues.

As I said last June, gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights. We will continue to promote human rights around the world for all people who are marginalized and discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity. And we will not rest until every man, woman and child is able to live up to his or her potential free from persecution or discrimination of any kind.


United Nations’ Human Rights Council issues joint statement on LGBT human rights

UNHRC logoToday the United Nations’ Human Rights Council issued a joint statement titled, “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based On Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” calling for an end to violence, criminal sanctions, and human rights violations against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The statement, which was signed by a record-breaking 84 countries, is a positive step toward improving the lives of LGBT persons in communities around the world. The number of countries signing onto the statement increased by 30 since 2006 when the issue was first debated.

The Council is gratified by the strong support shown by the U.S. Government and by the Department of State in particular.  Earlier today, the Department released a fact sheet outlining key components of the statement. As noted in that document, the U.S. played a strong leadership role in today’s result, and the newly adopted statement adds a number of references not seen in previous LGBT statements at the UN. Continue reading

Ungandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill may be debated again

NTV, a Ugandan television station, reports that the Ugandan Parliament may again begin debates of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality bill during the parliaments lame duck session which is set to begin on March 22.

see also: Frank Amendment on the Persecution of Sexual and Religious Minorities Passes the House Financial Services Committee

Frank Amendment on the Persecution of Sexual and Religious Minorities Passes the House Financial Services Committee

Press Release from the Office of Congressman Barney Frank

For Immediate Release

Contact: Harry Gural
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Phone: (202) 225-9400
Cell:  (202) 281-0670

Frank Amendment on the Persecution of Sexual and Religious Minorities Passes the House Financial Services Committee

WASHINGTON – Congressman Barney Frank, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, today introduced an amendment in the Committee which would have the effect of pressuring countries which persecute people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or religious belief.  Although most votes in the committee have broken along party lines, Congressman Frank’s amendment passed the Committee with near-unanimous support.  The text of the amendment follows:

The Committee urges Treasury to advocate that governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development institutions do not engage in gross violations of human rights, for example, the denial of freedom of religion, including the right to choose one’s own religion, and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“What we have seen in recent years is a pattern of gross violation of human rights in some countries – extreme physical persecution and even execution,” said Congressman Frank.  “In Uganda for example, which was the major beneficiary of our Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, there has been physical persecution of people who are sexual minorities.”

“The United States has a fairly influential voice in the development area.  And we should not be supportive of providing multilateral bank development funds going to the governments of countries which engage in the physical persecution of people because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Frank’s amendment will now be included in the language of House Financial Services Committee bill which outlines budget priorities for issues under its jurisdiction.  Because of the overwhelming support for Frank’s language in today’s deliberations, it is hoped that it will also garner support in the Budget Committee and in the House as a whole.

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