Archive for August, 2011

Keynote by Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer To the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association

repost from

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Daniel B. Baer

August 26, 2011

Thank you very much for that introduction. I am thrilled to be here today and to get the chance to talk with and meet so many of you.

My mom grew up here in Philadelphia so I have always felt a sense of connection to this city. And of course as a human rights guy, I feel lucky to get to give a talk here. Philly has what you might call a strong brand; it’s a city of principles—of liberty and of brotherly (and sisterly) love—core principles that reflect some of our most sacred moral intuitions; principles that undergird a commitment to democracy and human rights.

I want to start today by bringing you greetings from Secretary Clinton—I know that you invited her—a world superstar; historic figure; longtime champion of the human rights of LGBT people. And you got me. What can I say–these things happen. Let’s make the most of it. Continue Reading

Immigration change could help gay foreign nationals facing deportation

Repost from The Washington Blade

The Obama administration unveiled on Thursday new immigration policy that could enable many undocumented immigrants facing deportation to stay within the United States — a move that could enable bi-national same-sex couples at the risk of separation to stay together within the country.

Under the new guidance, immigration authorities within the Obama administration will conduct a case-by-case review of the approximately 300,000 undocumented immigrants facing possible deportation to determine which cases are high priority and low priority. Those who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk will be a higher priority for deportation, while those who are deemed lower priority will be taken out of the pipeline.

Administration officials will weigh a person’s ties and contributions to the community and family relationships. During an on background conference call with media outlets on Thursday, a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said these criteria are inclusive of LGBT families and same-sex couples. Continue Reading

Bachmann Campaign Organizer Tied to “Kill the Gays” Backer in Uganda

Repost from The Advocate

The man running outreach to faith-based communities for Republican Michele Bachmann’s nomination campaign has been tied to the key backer of the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

The Atlantic reports that Peter E. Waldron had tried to be coy about his identity when confronted, at first refusing to provide his name, but journalist Garance Franke-Ruta discovered that the evangelical pastor was once imprisoned in Uganda for a supposed terrorism plot.

A film about Waldron’s experience is apparently in the works, titled The Ultimate Price: The Peter E. Waldron Story. While Waldron was in Uganda from 2002 to 2006, the Republican political activist was reportedly arrested with a small weapons cache. The details are murky but he spent more than a month in prison.

The surfacing of this name, tied to Uganda, got people wondering. And it turns out Waldron was spotted by happenstance while visiting the church of staunchly antigay, and dangerous, pastor Martin Ssempa. A journalist with The New Republic, Andrew Rice, bumped into them together while researching an article on evangelicals in the country. Continue Reading

Cameroonian men detained for “homosexuality”

Action Alert Amnesty InternationalRepost from Amnesty International

15 August 2011

The Cameroonian authorities must immediately release two young men due to stand trial on 18 August on charges of homosexuality and repeal the discriminatory law used to imprison them, Amnesty International said today.

The two men – a 19-year-old known only as Jonas, and a 20-year-old known only as Francky – were arrested on 25 July in a car outside a night club in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé.

They have been charged under Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual acts, and are being held at Yaoundé’s Kondengui central prison.

“Given the high level of officially sanctioned homophobia in Cameroon, those arrested under this law are at risk of attack or other forms of ill-treatment by fellow prisoners, or by prison authorities, because of their alleged sexual orientation.” said  Erwin Van Der Borght,  Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

“Cameroon should repeal this draconian law. By arresting people purely because of their alleged sexual orientation, the Cameroonian government is flagrantly violating international human rights treaties which it has signed or ratified.”

Jonas and Francky are the latest in a series of young men arrested under Section 347a.  If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison. Continue reading

Nepal census recognizes third gender for the first time

Repost from United Nations Development Programme

Nepal has just completed its first national census that officially includes a third option in the gender categories that citizens can select, opening the way for stronger recognition of sexual and gender minority rights in provision of public services.

Official recognition of third gender rights follows a landmark 2007 Supreme Court decision aimed at securing rights for Nepal’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex population, adding the new category on citizenship documentation essential to access a range of health and legal services. Continue reading ‘Nepal census recognizes third gender for the first time’

President Obama Issues Order that Prevents Human Rights Abusers Who Target LGBT Individuals from Entering the United States

On August 4, 2011, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation that bars entry into the United States of individuals who participate in or condone serious human rights violations, including those targeting LGBT communities worldwide.  Entry into the United States is now prohibited for anyone who “planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in . . . widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population based in whole or in part on . . . sexual orientation or gender identity, or who attempted or conspired to do so.”

The White House notes that “this proclamation will also cover participants in serious human rights violations, such as prolonged arbitrary detention,” and that the “proclamation also bans admission to the United States for those who are complicit in organizing these abuses – not just those who carry them out.  As such, it allows the United States to act before planned abuses and atrocities metastasize into actual ones.”  The Secretary of State will determine who should be barred under this new standard.  See the White House Fact Sheet here.

The Council praises this important clarification, which could in principle be used to justify the exclusion of hate-promoting politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced a “kill the gays bill” in a previous legislative session in Uganda and may do so again.  That bill, of course, would have carried dire consequences for LGBT individuals in Uganda.  The President’s new order gives him and the Secretary of State an important tool to use in dissuading extremist actions that are prejudicial to basic human rights, and in encouraging the development of inclusive laws and societies.

The Proclamation is available here.

State Department Briefs Congress on International LGBT Rights

August 3, 2011 – State Department officials today briefed the LGBT Equality Caucus in the U.S. Congress on their foreign policy efforts to promote fundamental human rights for LGBT communities globally.  The briefing was organized in response to a Congressional sign-on letter that was sent to Secretary Clinton in June to welcome her “leadership in responding to human rights abuses targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals around the world.”  The bipartisan letter, signed by 45 members of Congress, called on Secretary Clinton to continue to build on that work, and asked for additional information on steps the State Department has taken to inject LGBT-related human rights concerns into our public and private diplomacy.  The Council for Global Equality moderated the briefing.

The June letter was organized by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who helped launch the LGBT Equality Caucus in the last Congress, and it was endorsed both by the Republican Chariman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and the Ranking Democrat, Howard Berman (D-CA), who have both taken principled positions to promote the fundamental rights of LGBT communities through their foreign affairs leadership.  The letter noted many of the State Department’s actions in support of LGBT rights over the past year, and it called for additional information so that Congress can work with the State Department “to situate this agenda within our country’s broader human rights, public diplomacy and international development priorities.”  See a copy of the Congressional letter here.

In addition to the briefing, the State Department also responded last week with an equally detailed letter to Congress outlining its commitment to LGBT rights and its work in support of fundamental human rights globally.  See the State Department’s response here.

Corporate America’s Response to Homophobia Abroad

Coke Zero Live on the WaterfrontWhen a company facilitates public expressions of homophobia – even inadvertently – what response is it obligated to take?

That question has confronted the Coca-Cola Company since late April, when a concert it co-sponsored in Jamaica became an outlet for homophobic rantings by Sizzla, one of Jamaica’s most prominent reggae musicians. Sizzla’s history of anti-gay lyrics is well-documented and well-known; his performance in Montego Bay, in keeping with that tradition, included the performance of a song that calls for the murder of gay people.

Coca-Cola, of course, has a commendable score of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index over many years, and no one has charged Coke with discriminating against its LGBT employees in Jamaica or elsewhere. But that, of course, isn’t the issue.

What happened in Jamaica was, on one level, a stunning display of professional error. In the largest sense, the local Coca-Cola bottling company that signed up to sponsor the waterfront event clearly failed to do any due diligence on Sizzla. Nor apparently did the company include, in its sponsorship agreement, any clause outlining its expectations regarding the performances it underwrote. Heads may or may not roll over these basic professional failures, but surely the waterfront fiasco could have been avoided had the company put in place even the most rudimentary professional safeguards against these mistakes. Continue reading ‘Corporate America’s Response to Homophobia Abroad’

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