International Human Rights Defense Act Introduced in Congress to Promote Rights of LGBTQI Individuals Globally

February 3 – The Council for Global Equality applauds Sen. Markey and Rep. Lowenthal for reintroducing legislation to codify the State Department position of Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI Persons. The bill, known as the International Human Rights Defense Act, also requires the Special Envoy to develop a comprehensive global strategy to respond to criminalization, discrimination, and violence against the LGBTQI community globally.

The Council and its member organizations promoted this bill in the last Congress, drawing 214 cosponsors in the House and 40 cosponsors in the Senate. We will redouble our efforts to build support for the bill in the new Congress, and we call on the new Chairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee to push for a markup of the bill by Pride month this June.  There is no reason not to include this on the must-pass list for the new Congress. 

We also call on the Biden Administration to appoint a Special Envoy as a priority, even before the legislation is adopted. The Special Envoy position was first created and staffed in the Obama Administration, but it went vacant for the past four years. We desperately need a new Special Envoy to lead our diplomatic efforts in this area – and to repair the lasting harm to LGBTQI issues caused by the last administration’s efforts to undermine human rights norms at the United Nations and beyond. Upgrading the position to the rank of ambassador, as suggested in the bill, could send an even more powerful message about our country’s commitment to global equality and the importance of centering the rights of LGBTQI individuals in U.S. foreign policy.  

Read the press release and the text of the bill here.

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