The State Department’s Annual Human Rights Report: A Firmly Measured Response to Egregious Abuse

April 13, 2011 – The State Department last week released its annual human rights report.  Once again, the Council for Global Equality applauds the State Department’s effort to “provide an overview of the human rights situation around the world as a means to raise awareness of human rights conditions, in particular as these conditions affect the well-being of women, children, racial and religious minorities, trafficking victims, members of indigenous groups and ethnic communities, persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, refugees, and members of other vulnerable groups.”  And once again this year, the report bears witness to a clear and growing crisis in human rights abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide.

For the second year in a row, every country chapter now includes a section on “societal abuses, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” highlighting LGBT-related incidents in almost every country in the world.  Those abuses include arbitrary arrest and detention, police abuse, rape, murder, social exclusion, impediments to political participation, discriminatory health practices and extreme trends in employment discrimination that exclude far too many citizens from the economic life of their own country.  In many cases, the report notes that transgender individuals, lesbians and refugee fare even worse. (View a compendium of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) references in the report.)

While the State Department’s annual report to Congress examines a broad range of human rights concerns impacting various minority communities, the report sets out in stark terms how dangerous it is for LGBT individuals to go about their daily lives as ordinary citizens in many parts of the world.  The report also makes clear that LGBT rights are not special rights, but that they are firmly rooted in basic human rights protections that are shared by all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that those protections are under severe attack in the world today. Continue Reading

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