Archive for September, 2012

Will LGBT Issues Feature in the Upcoming Presidential Debate?

Will LGBT Issues Feature in the Upcoming Presidential Debate?Presidential debates rarely shed new light on what a presidential candidate really believes. Set-piece statements and rehearsed position points are the order of the night – and the format of the debates rarely allows for reflection or back-and-forth discussion.

The October 3 debate – first in this season’s set of debates – is slated to focus on domestic policies. The Council for Global Equality believes that if the United States wishes to claim leadership in the struggle for human rights abroad, our country must pay more attention to LGBT inequalities here at home.  We hope, and urge, that LGBT issues will be included in the mix – and that they not be limited to backward-looking topics such as whether repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was right for our country.  (It was, let’s move on.)

We’d like to hear the candidates address, at a deeper level, why a country that professes a belief in equal rights, justice and the pursuit of happiness can fail to assure equality for all citizens, including those of us who happen to be LGBT. Some questions worth considering:

  • Why should an employer be allowed to fire an employee who is gay or lesbian – or not to hire him/her – for that reason? How is that lack of protection consistent with any understanding of “fair” and “equal”?
  • How do candidates understand the separation of church and state – not simply with respect to the rights of religious denominations, but with respect to the government’s rights and responsibilities to ensure equal rights for citizens from different religious faiths or, indeed, those who belong to no faith tradition?
  • In that regard, why should government contracts (representing taxpayer funds) be given to organizations – whether religious or secular – that refuse to respect civil principles of fairness and equality for all employees, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity?
  • Why isn’t U.S. citizenship conferred on in vitro fertilized children that are conceived by gay and lesbian U.S. citizen couples abroad?
  • And why shouldn’t immigration policy be amended to accommodate the families and partners of gay and lesbian citizens – in the same manner that families and partners of straight citizens are allowed to reunite with their loved ones?

There are many more LGBT policy questions to address, of course. But we hope the organizers of the October 3 domestic policy debate will help us arrive at a better understanding of to what degree the two candidates have internalized American values of fairness and equality and how, in consequence, they would propose to move our country beyond basic LGBT fairness issues that should have been resolved in the last century.

Born Free and Equal, New Report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Born Free and Equal - OHCHRToday the Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on sexual orientation and gender identity in human rights law titled, “Born Free and Equal“. The 60 page booklet outlines the 5 core legal obligation of states to protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Sections include: protecting individuals from homophobic and transphobic violence, prevention of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons, decriminalizing homosexuality, the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and respecting freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The report draws on over 18 years of documented violations of the human rights of LGBT people and analysis of state compliance with international human rights law. This report summarizes and advises states on meeting their fundamental human rights obligations. The booklet is also meant to assist human rights defenders in holding states accountable to these obligations.

Visit the OHCHR website to find out more. The report will also be released in Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese in the coming months. You can download the English version here.

Latin American LGBT activists visit the U.S. on State Department-sponsored trip

Latin American LGBT activists visit the U.S. on State Department-sponsored trip

Laura Bronzino of Argentina and Jaime Parada in Chile in D.C. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Repost from the Washington Blade

Nine Latin American activists continue to tour the United States on a State Department-organized trip that is part of its ongoing efforts to promote human rights for LGBT people around the world.

Jaime Parada of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile; Laura Bronzino, president of the Misiones LGBT Association in Argentina; Henry Peralta, general director of the LGBT Equality Foundation in Bolivia; Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa; Brazilian Congressman Jean de Matos; Francisco Madrigal of the Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America in Costa Rica; Efraín Soria, president of the Equity Foundation in Ecuador; José Lopéz, vice president of Comunidad Cultural de Tijuana LGBTI in México and Panamanian activist Augustín Rodríguez  began their trip in D.C. on Sept. 4. They met with Human Rights Campaign staffers, former HRC President Elizabeth Birch, Council for Global Equality President Mark Bromley, transgender activist Dr. Dana Beyer and gay Maryland state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City,) representatives from the Justice Department, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other federal agencies, human rights groups and non-governmental organizations while in the nation’s capital. The group also discussed the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers at the Pentagon. Continue Reading

Witch-hunt in Iraq

Repost from BBC News

Iraqi law enforcement agencies are involved in the systematic and deadly persecution of gay men and women there, a BBC investigation has revealed.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of gay people have been killed in recent years, activists say, while the Western-backed government turns a blind eye – or worse. The UN tells the BBC that neglecting these acts of violence makes the Iraqi state a perpetrator in the crimes. Read the full story at BBC News

Judy and Dennis Shepard Speak Up for LGBT Rights in Europe

Judy and Dennis Shepard Speak Up for LGBT Rights in EuropeRepost from DipNote Blog by Frankie Sturm, Deputy Cultural Attache at U.S. Embassy Warsaw in Poland.

Sitting down to dinner to wrap up two jam-packed days of outreach by Judy and Dennis Shepard in Poland to parents of LGBT individuals, non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, TV reporters, and others, I was struck by how universally their story resonates even thousands of miles from the United States.

As co-founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Judy and Dennis have worked tirelessly to expand LGBT rights and protections through the legal system, while changing hearts and minds by telling the tragic story of their son’s murder due to hate and intolerance.

The State Department is proud to be sponsoring the Shepards on a five-country, two week-plus European outreach trip. The Shepards’ tour includes stops in Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, and Germany. Continue Reading


Taking LGBT Business to the International Stage

LGBT Summit of the AmericasGuest blog post by Justin G. Nelson, Co-Founder and President of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) 

Last month, I had a chance to talk about international supply chain opportunities to a packed room of attendees at the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s National Business & Leadership Conference in Chicago. We were so honored that the conference sold-out and we had more than 500 people in attendance, including LGBT business owners, affiliate chamber leaders, allied organizations, and corporate representatives from more than 130 NGLCC partner companies.

Next week, the NGLCC will be in Colombia for the first-ever U.S. Government-certified LGBT Trade Mission to Colombia and the first-ever LGBT Summit of the Americas. We will bring together regional leaders, multinational corporate executives, leading entrepreneurs, and organizational partners like The Council for Global Equality, from across the region to discuss LGBT business imperatives.

The Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Government at large, understands the need for inclusive business models. In our meeting on August 28, Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank made clear that information on underserved business communities, be they gay, minority, women, disabled, or veteran-owned, was lacking, and that partnerships with community business organizations like the NGLCC are vital to understanding the needs of these businesses and their inclusion in wider programs – and more importantly, in the supply chain.

The NGLCC is proud of the network of LGBT Chambers of Commerce we’ve built across America and globally. We are so excited to be launching an affiliate chamber in Colombia during our trip, and as we continue to expand internationally, we know that our work with The Council for Global Equality will continue to advance the cause of LGBT equality around the world.

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