Archive for September, 2011

Republican Presidential Candidates on Equality and Human Rights

Republican LogoIn his speech before the United Nations on September 21, President Obama made clear that human rights are universal, including with respect to individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  We salute him for having made that point so clearly, and in such an important international venue.

To date, we’ve heard little from any of the Republican presidential candidate front-runners about their understanding of, or commitment to, human and civil rights.  Perhaps the next debate, scheduled for October 11 in Dartmouth, New Hampshire, would be an opportune time to seek clarity.

Our most intriguing questions are triggered by some of the candidates’ past statements.  In August, Rick Santorum used the stage in Ames to express worry about the plight of gay Iranians, for instance.  Can he talk at greater length about how that concern squares with his decades-long opposition to fair laws and policies toward LGBT Americans?

For his part, Rick Perry has equated, in a loose way, our nation’s struggle for racial equality with his policy agenda of cutting taxes.  Surely Americans deserve to have a better understanding of his support for civil rights policies and, indeed, his understanding of what “fairness” means in a policy sense.

And if Mitt Romney believes that “corporations are people,” we’d like to hear him extend his thoughts to the responsibilities that corporations have to protect and advance the equal rights of their real-human workers, including those who happen to be LGBT, in this country and overseas.

More fundamentally, it’s time for all Republican candidates to explain to voters what they really believe about the rights of LGBT people, at home and abroad.  We note, in that regard, that many of the candidates have signed a range of pledges – e.g., to oppose tax increases, stand against abortion, or fight marriage equality for gays.  Which among them would be bold enough to make the following five-point pledge:

  1. All Americans – including those who are LGBT – are entitled to full legal equality and respect.
  2. Equal treatment for all people, including minorities, is central to the concept of democracy that America stands for, and should be included in any diplomatic efforts to advance democracy abroad.
  3. The human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people neither differ from, nor are any less important than, those of straight people.
  4. The United Nations and other multinational structures should give human rights, including those of LGBT people, higher priority.
  5. American corporations should offer LGBT employees and their families the same benefits, obligations, training, and opportunities as those accorded to straight employees and their families, including in their overseas operations.

We believe the debates must shed light on how the Republican presidential candidates would fulfill their obligations to respect and advance equality in this country and abroad.  We hope that Dartmouth will provide a better window into their thinking.

Calling on Cameroon government to end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations

Press Release from Amnesty International

The Cameroonian authorities must end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations, five human rights organizations said today in an open letter to the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), L’Association pour la Défense des Droits des Homosexuel(le)s (ADEFHO) and Alternatives Cameroun in urging the government to release all individuals detained under the discriminatory law.

“This use of criminal law to punish private sexual activity between consenting adults contravenes international human rights laws that Cameroon has signed and ratified,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “We are receiving an increasing number of reports that individuals are being targeted not only because of their sexual behaviour, which is the subject of these discriminatory laws, but because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This use of criminal law to punish identities, as well as behaviours, is deeply concerning,” he added.

The organizations also ask that the government take steps to ensure the end of detentions, arrests and harassment of individuals on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Continue reading ‘Calling on Cameroon government to end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations’

Obama Addresses Global Gay Rights in UN Speech

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, issued the following statement to The Advocate Wednesday on the president’s address:

“The President’s remarks today at the UN General Assembly, where he called for the world to ‘stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,’ were historic. Never before has a sitting U.S. President spoken so clearly about LGBT rights in a formal address to the full General Assembly. It shows how far we have come.”

“In his last months in office, President Bush refused to join a UN statement calling on countries to decriminalize homosexual relations and relationships. Today, President Obama stood before that same institution and pledged U.S. support for LGBT rights globally. This is the next frontier of the human rights struggle at the UN, and the arc of justice is clearly bending toward equality.”

Read the full article published by The Advocate here

Related Global Equality Today posting: President Obama calls on the countries of the world to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians

President Obama calls on the countries of the world to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians

Today President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly and called on world leaders to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians.

“And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the cancer of corruption. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That is why we have partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on Open Government that helps ensure accountability and empower their citizens. No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere. And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.”

You can watch President Obama’s United Nations speech in its entirety here:

Ugandan LGBTI Rights Activist Frank Mugisha to Receive 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award

Frank Mugisha

Photo: Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

The Council for Global Equality would like to congratulate Frank Mugisha on this honor as well as on his tireless work on behalf of the LGBTI community.

Read the statement below from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights about Frank’s work and the award.

Frank Mugisha, a prominent young advocate for the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda, has been chosen to receive the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Mr. Mugisha is the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a leading organization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) movement in the East African country.

In Uganda, LGBTI organizations operate in a dangerously hostile climate, and Mr. Mugisha is one of the few openly gay LGBTI activists. As a spokesperson for the movement, he amplifies the voice of one of the most vulnerable groups in the country.

“Frank Mugisha’s unbending advocacy for gay rights in Uganda in the face of deep-rooted homophobia is a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit,” said RFK Human Rights Award Judge Dean Makau Mutua, Professor of Law and Dean of the University at Buffalo Law School (SUNY). Continue Reading

Ugandan First Lady behind the Anti-Homosexuality bill

Janet MuseveniRepost from the Daily Moniter

The First Lady Ms Janet Museveni, was behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, US Ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, said in a leaked diplomatic cable.

The revelation was made by Senior Presidential Adviser John Nagenda, during a discussion with a US embassy political officer.

In Mr Lanier’s comments which were leaked on September 1, by whistleblower Wikileaks, Mr Nagenda is quoted to have told the US embassy that President Museveni is “quite intemperate” when it comes to homosexuality, but the First Lady, who he described as ‘a very extreme woman,’ “is ultimately behind the bill.” Continue Reading

From Persecution to Persecution: LGBTI Refugees in Uganda and Kenya

Repost from council member Human Rights First

“Why would a gay refugee come to Uganda?”  This was a logical question raised by a Ugandan human rights defender the other day while we were in Kampala doing research on the protection challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees in the region.

Uganda – where an infamously draconian “Kill the Gays” bill was introduced in the last session of Parliament, where last year a local newspaper published the names and photos of 100 alleged homosexuals under the headline “Hang Them,” where current law criminalizes same sex acts, where many police officers are viewed as a source of persecution against LGBTI persons rather than protection, where homophobic violence is committed by civilians with perceived impunity, where LGBTI persons are commonly discriminated against in seeking housing, employment and medical care, and where LGBTI Ugandans flee from – is far from being a “safe haven” for any LGBTI refugee. Rather, Uganda offers its own set of dire hardships for those to who seek protection there. Continue Reading

New ICJ Publication on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Comparative Law

From International Commission of Jurists

The Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Justice: A Comparative Law Casebook collects and analyzes judicial decisions from more than 100 courts around the world.  The Casebook showcases the role of international and comparative law in litigation seeking to vindicate the human rights of LGBT individuals.  It is organized into fourteen chapters, each consisting of an introduction to the main legal issues and arguments followed by detailed case summaries. The chapters cover topics ranging from decriminalisation and employment discrimination to gender expression, military service and partnership recognition.  The cases are both old and new and collectively they trace the progression of the twin norms of equality and universality. The ICJ hopes that the Casebook will be of use to legal practitioners everywhere and will encourage human rights litigation in domestic courts.

Download the publication here

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