Archive for July, 2019

Rep. Titus Introduces GLOBE Act to Protect LGBTI Rights Worldwide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 22, 2019
Contact: Kevin Gerson
Kevin.Gerson@mail.house.gov

Washington, D.C. – Today Representative Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District introduced the Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality (GLOBE) Act with the support of top House Democrats and leading LGBTI advocacy organizations. The legislation outlines a vision for U.S. leadership in the protection of LGBTI rights around the world.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the creation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights to advise the State Department on human rights – and appointed several commissioners with troubling records on LGBTI issues. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has refused to fill the State Department position of Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.

The GLOBE Act would codify in law the Special Envoy position, require the State Department to document cases of human rights abuses and discrimination against LGBTI people around the world, and institute sanctions against foreign individuals who are responsible for egregious abuses and murders of LGBTI populations. Additionally, the bill ensures fair access to asylum and refugee programs for LGBTI individuals who face persecution because of their sexual orientation.

“No person should suffer from discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” said Congresswoman Titus (NV-1). “Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. is failing to protect the rights of LGBTI people at home and abroad. This bill will help restore our role in promoting LGBTI rights around the world and punishing regimes that persecute people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Around the world, far too many people face discrimination, harassment, and even violence because of who they are and who they love,” said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Engel (NY-16). “We simply cannot look the other way when the human rights of LGBTI individuals are abused or ignored. This measure would ensure that pushing back against this sort of injustice is a foreign policy priority. I applaud Representative Titus for her leadership on this issue, and I’m glad to support her legislation.”

“As we continue to work toward full equality under the law for all Americans, we as a nation must also be champions for vulnerable LGBTI people abroad,” said Congressman Cicilline (RI-1). “Nobody should be forced to live in fear simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s long past time to pass the GLOBE Act to finally send the message that hatred and violence against the LGBTI community will not be tolerated. I’m proud to join with Congresswoman Titus, Chairman Engel, and our allies in the House to reintroduce this critical legislation.”

“Our nation was built on the basis of equality and justice, that we promote a system that enforces the precept that all people are entitled to the same set of basic human rights,” said Congressman Lowenthal (CA-47). “These rights include the right to love who they chose and to be who they are without fear of punishment or death. LGBTI rights are human rights.”

“As the State Department under Secretary Pompeo is creating a hierarchy of human rights with religious freedom as their sole priority, we fear that their true intention is to alienate the rights of LGBTI people,” said Chair of the Council for Global Equality Mark Bromley. “The GLOBE Act is a remedy to that dangerous, ideological shift in our nation’s long-standing human rights policy.”

“While the Trump-Pence White House refuses to speak out against anti-LGBTQ attacks worldwide, it is essential that the U.S. Congress defend the human rights and protections of all people — including LGBTQ people,” said Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “With the introduction of this legislation, Congress sends an important message that U.S. leaders remain committed to advancing human rights around the globe. We thank Rep. Titus for her leadership and advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ people worldwide.”

The legislation has the support of 52 original co-sponsors and the Council for Global Equality, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Immigration Equality Action Fund, CHANGE, PFLAG National, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Center for American Progress, GLAAD, International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), Amnesty International USA, PAI, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Advocates for Youth, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), OutRight Action International, Church World Service (CWS), Equality California, and Silver State Equality.

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Proposed US Ambassador to UN in Geneva Would Undermine LGBTI Rights – As UN Votes to Renew Mandate of Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, US Senate Considers Extremist Ambassador Who Would Sabotage That Work

United Nations GenevaThe UN Human Rights Council voted today to renew the mandate of its expert on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The vote gives the UN the political and financial resources needed to continue its groundbreaking work in support of fundamental rights for LGBTI individuals around the world.  Sadly, in Washington, the Senate soon will vote to confirm an extremist to serve as our ambassador to the UN human rights institutions in Geneva.  If confirmed, he would undermine that work.

The Council for Global Equality joined other groups in releasing a letter today calling on the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Andrew Bremberg to serve as US Ambassador in Geneva.  The vote on the LGBT expert in Geneva shows why we need an ambassador there who will support the UN’s human rights work, not a political extremist who would sabotage it at every turn.

The UN vote today was closer than it should have been but stronger than the original vote to establish the position three years ago.  Today’s vote had 27 countries supporting the position, with 12 opposing and 7 abstentions.  Sadly, the United States did not lend its support, having stepped off the world’s leading human rights body a year ago.  It’s time to renew US leadership on human rights.  Andrew Bremberg is not the one to lead.  We urge the Senate to oppose his confirmation and demand a new nominee with proven human rights leadership experience.

 

Trump Administration Torpedoes Human Rights at State Department

Earlier today, Secretary Pompeo formally launched a new commission aimed at narrowing our country’s human rights advocacy to fit with the “natural law” and “natural rights” views of social and religious extremists.

The formal announcement was read awkwardly by Secretary Pompeo at a July 8 press briefing, at which he took no questions.  Pompeo referred without specificity to concern that human rights not be “hijacked” by those who would use the name for their own purposes.  He suggested that the institutions designed to protect human rights had drifted from their mission and claimed that the new commission will offer an “…informed view of the role of human rights in foreign policy….”  Most of the commissioners he named publicly are known for their highly conservative views, often framed with a religious slant.  The Chair of the Commission, Mary Ann Glendon, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, has long opposed sexual and reproductive rights, and, as documented by Equity Forward, has written in the most alarmist of terms about the supposed social harms of marriage equality in our country.

We have written earlier of our suspicions that the so-called “Unalienable Rights Commission” is but a thinly guised mechanism to jettison LGBT populations and reproductive rights from the purview of U.S. human rights policies and protections. To date, at least five Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have raised questions about the new committee’s purpose and membership.  They also have questioned the way in which the committee was conceived, noting in particular its circumvention of the very bureau (Democracy, Human Rights and Labor) charged with integrating human rights concerns into U.S foreign policy at the State Department.

But our concern goes far deeper.  In an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal, Secretary Pompeo worries that we have lost our focus, and that today “[r]ights claims are often aimed more at rewarding interest groups and dividing humanity into subgroups.”  With language like that, we see this as part of a broader effort to push back against human rights for LGBTI individuals and other “subgroups” by creating a hierarchy of rights – with religious freedom at the pinnacle and the rights of LGBTI and other individuals in the “alienable” category.  We believe it wrong-headed to create an artificial human rights hierarchy — one that strips away the universality of human rights and puts political and religious rights above all others.

This seems all the more concerning coming just before the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the State Department next week.  We categorically reject these hierarchies and insist on an integrated approach to human rights for all.  Freedom of religion must be integrated within – and reinforcing of – the full range of human rights protections that honor the dignity of all persons in all of our many pursuits.

The Commission on Unalienable Rights Pompeo announced is less a group of thoughtful experts than a narrowly gauged, packed court.  In so blatantly appealing to their political base, Trump, Pence and Pompeo are dimming our country’s beacon of principle and freedom, hobbling U.S. human rights leadership, and thoughtlessly undermining the wider human rights platform on which other strategic U.S. interests rest.

With its embrace of dictators, its walk away from the UN Human Rights Commission, which is still the world’s most important human rights mechanism despite its faults, and its diminution of LGBT and gender rights as a legitimate part of policy, this Administration already has done far less to advance the cause of human rights than to harm it.  The new Commission seems designed to continue that retreat from U.S. leadership in forging a better world.  What a disgraceful — and steadily worsening — legacy.


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