Archive for March, 2013

LGBT Rights Debate Unfolds at the UN (VIDEO)

Repost from the Huffington Post

For decades the word “gay” was almost never heard in formal meetings at the United Nations. Today, after a series of recent diplomatic breakthroughs, awareness of the gravity and extent of homophobic violence and discrimination — and the need to tackle it — is widespread and growing.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his human rights chief Navi Pillay have led the way. In 2010 they launched a global appeal for the decriminalization of homosexuality and for other measures to safeguard the rights of LGBT people. Since then they have taken up the issue repeatedly in public speeches and private meetings, urging governments to confront homophobic prejudice, not pander to it, and to punish violence and hatred, not love. Continue Reading

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on LGBT Health Awareness Week

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on LGBT Health Awareness WeekShortly after the Affordable Care Act was enacted, President Obama asked me to identify steps we could take at the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As we mark the beginning of LGBT Health Awareness Week, I am proud to say that we have been working hard to ensure LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans.

For example, we have released rules requiring Medicare and Medicaid-participating hospitals to allow visitation rights for same-sex partners. This means LGBT Americans now have the same opportunities as other Americans to be with their families and loved ones when they are sick.

LGBT Americans have experienced – and continue to experience – health disparities and are more likely than other Americans to be uninsured or underinsured. Now, because of the Affordable Care Act, our major national health surveys are beginning to include data on LGBT populations. This will give us the information we need to target and reduce disparities among this group going forward.  We have also formed an internal working group to ensure we’re developing and coordinating policies targeted at increasing access to care for LGBT Americans and addressing their special health care needs.

Globally, we are leading efforts to advance a World Health Organization resolution supporting the health of LGBT populations around the world through equal access to health care services and by breaking down stigma and discrimination that create barriers to care. Continue reading ‘HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on LGBT Health Awareness Week’

Transgender Rights Bill Passes Canadian House Of Commons

Transgender Rights Bill Passes House Of CommonsReport from the Huffington Post

OTTAWA – A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Opposition private member’s legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.

It was one of the first tests of the Conservative caucus’ resolve on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) rights in Canada at a time when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been mounting a strong defence of such rights abroad.

Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore were among the Conservatives who supported the bill. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, most of his front bench and the vast majority of his backbenchers opposed it.

Opposition parties were united in their support for the bill, sponsored by New Democrat Randall Garrison.

MPs are generally free to vote as they see fit on private members’ bills.

“Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity,” Garrison said in a statement after the vote. Continue Reading

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Supports Same-sex Marriage

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, continues to champion human rights by supporting same-sex marriage. If you haven’t already heard what she has to say, watch the video below.

57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women ends with out inclusion of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity language

 The Commission on the Status of WomenThe Commission on the Status of Women (also called the “CSW”) is the UN’s global policy-making body dedicated to gender equality and the advancement of women.  To support the work of the CSW, every year UN Member States gather in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment globally.  This year, the deliberations at the CSW focused on violence against women and girls.  Since we know that lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and youth are at particular risk of violence, both within the family and in society at large, and that rates of violence against transgender women have reached truly staggering levels in many regions, it is disappointing to note that the UN could not agree on language to give voice to this oppression that is so often silenced or ignored.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who represents our country at the United Nations, expressed our country’s disappointment at the omission.  See her statement here. You can read more about the work of the CSW here: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/

Human Rights Activists meet with President Museveni of Uganda

uganda_blogmapA human rights delegation lead by Kerry Kennedy, President of The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, met with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on Monday. Kennedy expressed concerns about the the pending “Anti-Homosexuality” bill among other issues such as the privacy of sexual minorities. Museveni said that he would investigate the allegations of violence toward sexual minorities. Museveni also said that there is no discrimination, no killings, no marginalization and no luring of young people using money into homosexual acts in Uganda.

You can read the press statement from President Museveni here.

You can read an article about the meeting by John Njoroge of the Daily Monitor here.

Pressure Builds on Ukraine to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Washington, DC – March 13, 2013 –The Council for Global Equality applauds the 62 members of the U.S. Congress, who yesterday, called on Chairman Rybak of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, urging the country to refrain from passing pending anti-gay laws. These so-called “Homosexual Propaganda” laws clearly violate basic freedoms of assembly, speech, and press, with criminal sanctions of up to six years in prison for positive media portrayals of same-sex relationships or public gatherings for LGBT rights.

The bipartisan letter was led by Congressman Eric Swalwell of California who stated: “Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people. This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”

Tomorrow in Geneva, human rights defenders from the LGBT Council of Ukraine will be delivering a response to these proposed laws before the UN Human Rights Council, where they will condemn Ukraine’s blatant rejection of the UN’s call to scrap these bills. As part of the “Universal Periodic Review” of Ukraine’s human rights record, Ukrainian diplomats stated that their constitution provides sufficient protection, and that the government had no authority over members of Parliament. Olena Shevchenko, representing Ukrainian civil society, responded by noting: “Unfortunately, we need to recognize that the human rights situation of LGBTI people has worsened in Ukraine. Violence against LGBTI people has increased, and peaceful and legitimate public demonstrations against homophobic legislation have been banned and led to the arrest of LGBTI human rights defenders.”

In addition to the public sentiments of the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, members of the European Parliament have also written to their Ukrainian peers to express similar concerns and to call on them to reject the laws. “We hope this public pressure will encourage Ukrainian authorities to see the crucial need for protective legislation for LGBT citizens, as opposed to these outrageous attempts to criminalize basic freedoms of expression. As nondiscrimination laws and provisions are reviewed, sexual orientation and gender identity should be included as grounds for protection – as opposed to these laws, which purposefully exclude LGBT citizens from basic human rights protections,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.

Read the letter.

Related Content:  Sixty-two Members of Congress Call on the Ukrainian Parliament to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation


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