Archive for March, 2011

House Committee OKs End to Antigay Aid

Barney Frankrepost from The Advocate | by Michelle Garcia

The House Financial Services Committee passed an amendment Tuesday that would discourage giving aid to countries that persecute their citizens because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to a statement from Rep. Barney Frank (pictured), who introduced the amendment to the committee, the bill passed with nearly unanimous support. The amendment will be added to a House Financial Services Committee bill that outlines budget priorities for issues under the committee’s jurisdiction. According to Frank’s office, the Financial Services Committee’s overwhelming support for his amendment may lead to support in the Budget Committee and the full House.

The text of the amendment reads: “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.”

Frank cited Uganda, a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program, as an example of a country that openly abuses its LGBT citizens.

“The United States has a fairly influential voice in the development area,” Frank said Tuesday. “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.”

Gay Rights At Center Stage In Battle Over Moldova Antidiscrimination Bill

repost from | By Mircea Ticudean, Robert Coalson

An antidiscrimination bill in Moldova has become a bone of contention between religious conservatives and gay-rights activists. And the bill’s opponents have brought in some controversial figures from the U.S. religious right to bolster their arguments.

When the Moldovan government submitted a draft antidiscrimination law to parliament last month, conservative Orthodox Christian forces in the country treated it as a call to battle.

And that call was heeded by U.S. pastor and lawyer Scott Lively, who traveled to Chisinau to warn the country against adopting any measure that would bar discrimination against homosexuals.

The bill outlaws discrimination against anyone on the basis of religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, color, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, political opinion, or social status. It was proposed as part of Moldova’s effort to gain an association agreement with the European Union. Continue reading

Two Influential Americans Make Separate Visits to Europe’s Poorest Nation

repost from Human Rights First

This past week, the former Soviet republic of Moldova received visits from two high-profile Americans.

One of the visitors was Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States. He engaged Moldova’s leaders on future cooperation and the development of democratic institutions, and discussed the role of anti-Jewish pogroms and the Holocaust in the history of Moldova.

The other visitor came with a very different kind of appeal for greater U.S.-Moldovan cooperation. His name is Scott Lively, and the kind of “antigay rights” cooperation he envisions is antithetical to the public message of the U.S. government (albeit not voiced publicly during the Vice President’s trip to Moldova), which for the past two years has been telling the world that gay rights are human rights.

Scott Lively is known in the United States for being outspoken against homosexuality and “the LGBT lobby,” as well as occasional Holocaust revisionism. While his message has had increasingly less traction at home in the United States, Lively has emerged as a tireless international campaigner against the “threat” of homosexuality faced by other nations, from Russia to Uganda—and now to Moldova. Continue reading

Laws criminalizing homosexuality are incompatible with international human rights standards and fuel homophobia

repost from UNHCR website

Laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults remain on the statute books in more than 70 countries. They are an affront to principles of equality and non-discrimination and fuel hatred and violence—in effect giving homophobia a State-sanctioned seal of approval. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon have both called for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and for further measures to counter discrimination and prejudice directed at those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). In recent months, a series of incidents and developments have underscored the extent and the urgency of the challenge. Continue reading the story.

United States Accepts UN Recommendations for Improving LGBT Rights at Home

Today the US State Department released its response to the recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the human rights record of the United States. Of the 228 recommendations made by countries around the world to the United States, three of the recommendations (86, 112, and 116) relate to LGBT rights. The United States officially accepted all three LGBT recommendations today.

The Council for Global Equality and Human Rights Campaign have engaged with the Universal Periodic Review process to ensure inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the review of the United States’ human rights record, and are pleased that the United States today has officially and formally accepted these recommendations. (read the NGO submitted report here)

Since this was the first time that the United States has been reviewed by this relatively new UN process, it is also the first time that our nation publicly committed to the world community the intention to do more to combat violence and discrimination against LGBT American citizens. HRC and the Council for Global Equality intend to continue their work to ensure these recommendations are fully implemented by our government.

Leadership Matters

by Mark Bromley, Council Chair, The Council for Global Equality

Mark Bromley, The Council for Global Equality

Richard Grenell posted an online piece for the Advocate on February 19 in response to Kerry Eleveld’s profile article on Secretary Clinton’s LGBT advances at the State Department.  While I am not a big fan of tit-for-tat responses, Grenell goes out of his way to suggest that I lied about an important conversation at the State Department.  Such an unsubstantiated attack on my credibility is hard to let pass.

Richard Grenell argues on the Advocate website (read the article here) that Secretary Condi Rice was a champion of LGBT rights under the Bush administration, and that Secretary Clinton has merely built on that lead. He also claims that I fabricated a conversation with a senior-State Department official to discount the good work of the State Department under Secretary Rice. I certainly hope that quiet diplomacy was deployed under the leadership of Secretary Rice to support the fundamental rights of vulnerable LGBT communities worldwide, including those who are too often subjected to hate crimes, sexual assault, police harassment, extortion and arrest in the nearly 80 countries that still criminalize our relations and relationships. But the conversation that Grenell claims I fabricated suggests a different story.

Grenell says that: “Mark Bromley is a Democrat who worked for liberal senator Russ Feingold. His characterization of his conversation with an unnamed Bush administration official three years ago is presented without evidence because it isn’t true.” First of all, it’s insulting in the extreme to suggest that my political affiliations would make me more prone to lie. But let’s put that aside. The conversation was real, and the policy that it reflected was even more so.

I did in fact name the official for the story. It was then-Assistant Secretary for Human Rights David Kramer, who is identified in the article as “the State Department’s assistant secretary for human rights under President Bush in 2008.” Surely Grenell knows that Kramer was in that senior leadership position at the State Department at that time? In any case, the conversation I refer to was one in which I asked if the State Department could speak more forcefully against laws that criminalize homosexuality, instead of merely reporting on the laws and the harms they give license to in the State Department’s annual human rights report. Kramer explained in very respectful terms that it is difficult for the State Department to condemn popular laws that are democratically enacted by other sovereign nations. I took that to mean that the State Department would not speak out forcefully against such laws, and indeed, I never heard of them doing so under Secretary Rice’s tenure. I certainly hope they did, but given the final assault on LGBT rights by the Bush administration at the UN in December 2008, that seems difficult to imagine. Continue reading ‘Leadership Matters’

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