Archive for the 'Celebrations' Category



Obama Calls for LGBT Equality in Berlin Speech

President Barack Obama

Earlier today, President Obama addressed the German people in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and expressed his commitment to LGBT people.

“When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and treat their love and their rights equally under the law, we defend our own liberty as well.  We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness. We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness.  And as long as walls exist in our hearts to separate us from those who don’t look like us, or think like us, or worship as we do, then we’re going to have to work harder, together, to bring those walls of division down.”  

Echoing his 2013 inaugural address, where he stated, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well”, Obama called on the international community to continue to push for LGBT human rights.

You can read the text of the full speech here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/19/remarks-president-obama-brandenburg-gate-berlin-germany

Also today, Secretary of State John Kerry will speak at the State Departments pride celebration. Today’s speech will mark the first time, Kerry, as Secretary of State will address LGBT equality and how the foreign affairs community can support the human rights of LGBT persons globally. Mara Kiesling, Executive Director, of the National Center for Transgender Equality will also be speaking at today’s event. Details from this event will be posted as they become available.

Secretary Kerry Video Remarks Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Transcript of video remarks:

Hello! I wanted to take a moment to join people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month.

This month is about the assertion of equality and dignity. It is about the affirmation of fundamental freedoms and human rights. It is about people taking pride in who they are, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Protecting universal human rights is at the very heart of our diplomacy, and we remain committed to advancing human rights for all, including LGBT individuals. We are committed to advancing these rights not just in the month of June, but year-round.

As Secretary, I join with my colleagues at our embassies, consulates, and USAID missions around the world in saying, no matter where you are, and no matter who you love, we stand with you.

Across the globe – in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas – our diplomats are assisting local LGBT organizations and supporting local human rights advocates working to promote equality, create dialogue, and ensure protections for LGBT individuals.

Through the Global Equality Fund, the State Department has already provided critical emergency and long-term assistance to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons in over twenty-five countries. And our support will continue to grow, in cooperation with other equality-minded governments, foundations and corporations.

Forty-four years after Stonewall, we see incredible progress in the fight to advance the human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBT people, both here in the United States and globally. Unfortunately, our work is not done. Recent events underscore that despite progress, we still have a long way to go. There are LGBT people of all ages, all races, and all faiths – citizens of every country on Earth. And in too many places, LGBT people and their supporters are being attacked and harassed for simply being who they are and for standing up for their rights.

The United States condemns all such violence, harassment, and discrimination. As President Obama said, “the struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.” LGBT persons must be free to exercise their human rights – including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly and association – without fear of reprisal.

It is my honor to reaffirm the State Department’s commitment to promoting the human rights of LGBT persons, and indeed all human beings, worldwide.

To those celebrating Pride in the United States and around the world, I wish you all a Happy Pride month.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia and TransphobiaThis week we join with the worldwide LGBT community in celebrating IDAHO – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

IDAHO is less known in the U.S. than in many other countries around the world. Here in the U.S., LGBT communities have a greater focus on Gay Pride, a series of parades, concerts and other events, usually held in June, aimed at celebrating the unity and diversity of the LGBT movement. Pride reflects the heightened sense of LGBT community awareness and identification that has grown in the U.S. since the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. It equally celebrates the “coming out” movement that continues to change our country’s understanding of LGBT fairness in such positive ways.

IDAHO carries a different focus. Celebrated on May 17 – the 1990 date when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases – IDAHO is a call to conscience that the rights of LGBT people around the world remain under attack. For many LGBT communities worldwide, celebrating Gay Pride isn’t an option, or comes with great risk to personal safety and security. Being openly LGBT, in fact, can be an invitation to harassment and abuse, and even death. Here in the U.S., IDAHO can bring back the awareness that sexual orientation and gender identity are not only to be celebrated, but also require us to defend our rights. We can use IDAHO to redouble our commitment to ensure respect, fairness, and equality for LGBT people every where.

We are joined in that support with LGBT community organizations around the world, and we are proud that the White House, the Department of State, and a range of other foreign affairs agencies are supporting the cause of LGBT human and civil rights. We are also proud that many U.S. embassies around the world mark IDAHO and celebrate Pride as a sign of our country’s solidarity and support.

Related Content from our Organizational Council Members:

Amnesty International: Activists worldwide target homophobia in Jamaica, Ukraine and South Africa

Freedom House: International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013

Human Rights Watch: LGBT Rights: The 2013 ‘Hall of Shame’ and Reflecting on the pursuit of equality and non-discrimination on LGBT Day

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission: IDAHO 2013: Documenting Violence Against LBT People in Asia

Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) at 20

David Buss, GLIFAA 20 Year Anniversary

David Buss, GLIFAA’s founding president

A State Department event on Wednesday captured the remarkable changes in how LGBT citizens are winning acceptance and fair treatment in our country – and how American diplomatic muscle is persuading other countries to follow that same path.

On Wednesday, the State Department celebrated the 20th anniversary of GLIFAA, an organization representing the interests of LGBT employees of foreign affairs agencies.  As late as the 1970’s, being gay was considered a security risk – reason enough to stop a career.  Even after that practice ended and GLIFAA was formed, the life of gay diplomats was hardly “gay.”  Gay and lesbian employees sometimes found themselves in less desirable jobs; their day-to-day behavior often drew heightened scrutiny; often they found an uncomfortable fit at starched and formal diplomatic events, including American ones; their family members received none of the benefits that straight families enjoyed.

These issues are part of GLIFAA’s history of course:  more to the point, they are history, full stop.   At Wednesday’s event, speakers traced the arc of that history in human terms.  David Buss, GLIFAA’s founding president, spoke of the loneliness he felt as an out-gay employee in the 80s – how indeed he had been forced to come out to his family, in order to keep his job.  Secretary Clinton asked Tom Gallagher, the Department’s first out-gay employee, to stand:  he was the Department’s earliest gay pioneer, having the courage to live his life openly in those difficult 1970’s.  She asked the same of the Council’s own Michael Guest, our country’s first out-gay, Senate-confirmed ambassador, who left his career over the Department’s unequal treatment of gay families and then worked in the Obama Administration’s Transition Team to chart a path to their resolution.

Time-wise, their stories are bookends to a story of remarkable change at the Department – change that should be credited, in full, to the personal leadership of the Secretary and her Counselor, Cheryl Mills.  But the visuals of GLIFAA’s celebration were equally striking, and equally telling.  Merely holding the event in the marble-columned Benjamin Franklin Room – State’s top-floor formal reception room, where vice presidential diplomatic dinners are held and new ambassadors traditionally are sworn in – crystallized just how far GLIFAA has come.   So, of course, did the unprecedented presence of a sitting Secretary of State, surrounded by a bevy of political appointees from a cross-section of foreign affairs agencies and the Office of Personnel Management. Continue reading ‘Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) at 20′

Remarks at the 20th Anniversary of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA)

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, GLIFAARemarks: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
November 28, 2012

Click here to watch a video of the event.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all, very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Laughter.) Thank you, all. Thank you.

Yeah, that’s good. (Laughter.) Wow. Well, welcome to the Ben Franklin Room. (Laughter.) And congratulations on your 20th anniversary. I am so pleased to be here and to have this chance to join this celebration. Ken, thank you for your kind words and your efforts here to make this day possible. I am extremely pleased that Cheryl Mills, my friend as well as Chief of Staff and Counselor is here, so that those of you who may not have met her or even seen her, given how shy and retiring she is – (laughter) – can express your appreciation to her for her tireless efforts.

I’m delighted that Deputy Secretary Tom Nides is here. Tom, who some of you know, who you’ve had a chance to work with him, has been just an extraordinary deputy. Also let me recognize USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg. He’s been an unyielding advocate for the LGBT community at USAID. We also have a number of ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission, both past and present, some of whom have literally traveled from the other side of the world to be here. David, I’m talking about you. And we have Michael Guest with us, our country’s first out ambassador to be confirmed by the Senate and someone who’s remained an outspoken champion for LGBT rights, despite having to endure countless attacks and threats. Michael, why don’t you stand up so that you can be recognized? (Applause.) Continue reading ‘Remarks at the 20th Anniversary of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA)’

Sec. Clinton’s Remarks at Presentation of Human Rights Defenders Award

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton poses for a photo with recipients of the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defender Award including Adrian Jjuuko, Geoffrey Ogwaro, Julius Kaggwa, Joanita Warry Nambirige, Clare Byarugaba, Frank Mugisha, and Hassan Shire Sheikh in Kampala, Uganda on August 3, 2012. [State Department photo]

Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda
August 3, 2012

Thank you so much. Well, I am very pleased to be here once again in Kampala and to have the opportunity to present the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award to not just one person, but to a coalition of groups that are standing up for human rights and setting an example for how civil society can work together in common cause.

Now I know our meeting has been months in the making, but I am so delighted to be here in person to meet each of you – some of you I’ve met before, but not all of you – and to put everybody’s face and name and organization together.

Since I became Secretary, we have worked to elevate the role of civil society, and especially groups that promote human rights. And so we want to be your partners as well to help bend the arc of history toward justice and to help more people lead lives of dignity and opportunity. The work you are doing is helping to make human rights a human reality. You are tearing down barriers that prevent people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, the full benefits of humanity. And this coalition shows what can happen when brave change-makers come together.

I’ve said before it is critical for all Ugandans – the government and citizens alike – to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love. And no one has been a stronger champion than all of you. You’ve been organized, disciplined, and savvy. You have marshaled the evidence and made the arguments using the rights enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and in international law. And by doing so, you are a model for others and an inspiration to the world.

I’m well aware that you do your work often amidst difficult, even dangerous circumstances. I know that some of your lives have been threatened, your friends and families intimidated. But I want you to know that the United States is and will be your partner. I raised these issues with President Museveni today, because this isn’t just about carving out special privileges for any one group; this is about making sure universal rights are protected for all people. A violation of anyone’s rights is a violation of everyone’s rights.

Standing up for human rights is not always popular, but it is always honorable. And I am delighted to present you with this award to celebrate the work of this coalition to defend the human rights of all Ugandans.

Let me come over here, and we’ll have a picture. (Applause.)

Related: Winners of the Human Rights Defenders Award

Secretary Hillary Clinton accepts the World LGBT Award from World Pride


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