Archive for October, 2012

‘Traditional Values’ code for human rights abuse?

Repost from by Graeme Reid, Human Rights Watch

The U.N. Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution on “traditional values of humankind” as a vehicle for “promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It sounds innocuous, but its implications are ominous. Indeed, it is an immediate threat to the rights of many vulnerable groups – including women and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. And it flies in the face of the founding principles of universality and indivisibility enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is the third Russian-sponsored traditional values resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council. The second, in 2011, called for a study, and the resulting draft study is highly critical of “traditional values” as a framework, criticizing the concept as “vague, subjective and unclear.” The third, though, adopted on September 27, affirms traditional values as a valid framework for human rights.

Underpinning this is an argument that homosexuality is a moral issue and not a rights issue at all. A pernicious development is the recent proliferation of laws in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that seek to curtain freedom of speech by clamping down on “homosexual propaganda” under the pretext of “protecting children.” These laws are vaguely defined and have the effect of outlawing any supportive messages or activism around LGBT issues. Continue Reading

2012 Global Equality Leadership Award Event Photos

We would like to thank everyone who attended the award ceremony and reception for Ambassador Susan E. Rice, especially our gracious hosts. For those of you who were not able make it, you can view some photos from the event.

Ambassador Rice’s remarks, at the event, were not only moving, they were humorous, determined, and and most of all genuine. So glad that the LGBT community has an ally with her principles and drive. Stay tuned for a short video of the award ceremony.

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All photos by Noah Devereaux

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Will the Candidates Address Issues Impacting LGBT Communities at Home and Abroad in the Upcoming Presidential Debate?

will the candidates address issues impacting LGBT communities at home and abroad?

With two presidential debates remaining before the November 6 presidential election, will the candidates address issues impacting LGBT communities at home and abroad?

  • We’d like to hear the candidates address:
  • Whether they agree with Secretary Clinton’s statement that “…gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
  • To what degree human rights – including the epidemic of mistreatment and discrimination directed at foreign LGBT populations – should impact bilateral relationships; and
  • Whether, or how, their personal ethics embraces the cause of LGBT equality.

We believe voters should know:

  • How the candidates would respond to countries, like Uganda, that seek to penalize or even kill people who are gay;
  • Whether the candidates believe USG foreign assistance should be for developmental purposes only, or should be used to advance other national priorities, including democratic development and human rights enhancement; and
  • How they would direct USG departments and agencies with respect to using our foreign policy and developmental assistance tools to advance respect for LGBT rights.

Finally, we believe the candidates owe us, and all Americans:

  • A coherent sense of the place of LGBT rights within American foreign policy goals;
  • An understanding of whether they believe U.S.-funded AIDS prevention and treatment tools should target, among other populations, men who have sex with men; and
  • A clear statement as to whether LGBT fairness and equality, at home and abroad, will be a priority for them as President.

The world still respects America’s foreign policy voice. Over the coming four years, one of these two men can do much to impact how LGBT people are treated, at home and abroad. We need and deserve to know whether they are committed to take up that cause.

The Council for Global Equality honors Ambassador Susan E. Rice with the 2012 Global Equality Leadership Award

Ambassador Susan E. Rice accepting The Global Equality Leadership Award

Photo: Noah Devereaux

October 10, 2012 – The Council for Global Equality honored Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, with its 2012 Global Equality Leadership Award at a reception this evening at the home of Mitch Draizin and Fritz Brugere-Trelat.  The award recognizes U.S. leadership in support of LGBT equality in the United States and abroad.  Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin was the last award recipient.

Former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest, a former State Department colleague of Rice and currently a Senior Adviser to the Council for Global Equality, presented the award to her.  In his remarks, he noted the leadership qualities he had seen in Ambassador Rice across her many years of public service and described how those qualities had empowered the UN’s growing recognition that LGBT rights are human rights.

In accepting the award, Rice noted that “I am truly honored to receive this recognition, because LGBT rights has been one of my personal passions throughout my tenure at the United Nations and long before.”  She explained that the struggle is personal, noting “the fight for equal rights is fundamental.  It defines who I am, how I was raised, where I come from, and where I am determined to go. . . . That principle is what made us a nation and its implementation, progressively but still not sufficiently, is at the core of our work to perfect our nation.”  She emphasized that “LGBT individuals around the world have sacrificed so much – including in some cases their lives – to seek and obtain their basic human rights.”

Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, noted that “in December 2008, just before Ambassador Rice took her seat at the UN, the United States refused to join a basic UN statement affirming that LGBT rights are human rights, leaving us alone among all of our close allies in our regional Western voting bloc at the UN to reject that fundamental premise.  Since then, thanks to Ambassador Rice’s personal commitment and leadership, the United States has emerged as one of the strongest international advocates for LGBT rights at the UN and beyond.”

Julie Dorf, also Senior Adviser to the Council for Global Equality and the founder of the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), which advocates for LGBT rights globally, noted Rice’s leadership in securing UN recognition for IGLHRC, the first such UN recognition for an LGBT group from the United States.  That status allows IGLHRC to speak in support of LGBT rights at UN human rights fora.  IGLHRC’s current Executive Director, Jessica Stern, also thanked Ambassador Rice for her leadership and noted the role that organizations like hers are playing in partnering with supportive governments to advance LGBT equality for all.

Under the leadership of Ambassador Susan Rice, the United States has finally joined our closest allies in the UN in condemning violence, harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  And by directing the full force of U.S. diplomacy to such long-neglected human rights concerns, Rice helped put LGBT rights firmly on the UN agenda with an unprecedented new appeal to all countries in all regions.  In accepting the award, Rice said that the struggles in support of LGBT equality at the United Nations are some of her “proudest moments at the UN,” recognizing that “together, we’ve made a bit of history. The UN is far different today than it was four years ago.”  The Council for Global Equality is proud to be a partner in such history and proud to recognize the leadership of Ambassador Susan Rice.

The Council for Global Equailty to Honor Ambassador Susan E. Rice

Ambassador Susan E. RiceThe Council for Global equality is proud to announce the selection of, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as the recipient of the 2012 Global Equality Leadership Award.

Across her tenure, Ambassador Rice has spoken eloquently to the principle that, like all minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide are entitled to the same protections, respect and rights accorded to others.  Under her leadership, the United States joined the UN General Assembly in condemning violence, harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and led in restoring sexual orientation to a keystone UN human rights resolution against extrajudicial executions.  By directing the full force of U.S. diplomacy to that issue, Ambassador Rice helped put LGBT rights on the UN agenda with an unprecedented new appeal to all countries in all regions of the world.

Ambassador Rice’s leadership was also crucial to the success of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), a Council member, in securing consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. At the United Nations, unfriendly governments long have fought to exclude LGBT organizations and experts from participating in UN human rights meetings.  Indeed, that battle is now a proxy for the larger recognition of LGBT rights at the United Nations.  Without the leadership of Ambassador Rice, IGLHRC and other LGBT organizations might still be excluded from such important debates.

Ambassador Rice has consistently grounded our U.N. Mission’s representation on these matters in principles embodied in our country’s founding documents, as well as those contained in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Her leadership is in the best traditions of U.S. diplomacy.

The Global Equality Leadership Award will be presented to Ambassador Rice on October 10 in New York at a private reception.

Serbia: Revoke Ban on Belgrade Pride Parade

Repost from Human Rights Watch

(Berlin) – Serbia’s ban on the Belgrade Pride Parade, scheduled for October 6, 2012, violates the country’s international legal obligations and should be immediately repealed. On October 3, the Interior Ministry announced that based on an assessment of security risks, it was blocking the peaceful demonstration and all other public gatherings on the same date.

“The government of Serbia should protect the freedom of assembly and expression of the Serbian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and their straight allies instead of forbidding them to assemble and march on the streets of Belgrade,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director. “Pointing to security risks without any visible effort to come up with a reasonable plan to make the Belgrade Pride Parade happen is succumbing to threats of violence. Basic human rights are being thrown overboard.” Continue Reading

Napolitano’s same-sex couples directive: a milestone in immigration justice

Repost from The Guardian

Until now, even legally married gay couples were discriminated against in immigration cases. Meaningful reform begins at last

Things seemed grim, last fall, for John Brandoli, a US citizen in Massachusetts, and his Trinidadian husband, Michael. Though their marriage was recognized by the state, it did not come with the benefit they most urgently needed. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), John could not sponsor Michael for a green card.

As a result, Michael was facing deportation to Trinidad, one of the most dangerous places in the hemisphere for gay people. Michael’s American husband and mother-in-law were very anxious when they called my organization, Immigration Equality, for help. Our team – which talks to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants every day – mounted a media and advocacy campaign to stop Michael’s deportation. Thanks to his determined family, and the support of Senator John Kerry, he won.

In August 2011, the Obama administration had announced that couples like Michael and John shouldn’t have to pull out all the stops to stay together. The administration pledged to review pending deportation cases and grant “prosecutorial discretion” to those who had committed no crime and could show equities like ties to an American family. When the administration described the plan on phone calls with press, advocacy groups, and congressional staffers, they stated clearly: “We consider LGBT families to be families in this context.”

This was a watershed. The American immigration system had neverconsidered LGBT families like John and Michael to be families in any context. Until 1990, LGBT foreigners could be barred from entering the US entirely. America’s immigration system is based on family unification, but gay families don’t count. Continue Reading

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