Archive for the 'Celebrations' Category



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

Pride in U.S. Diplomatic Engagement: Council Chair Mark Bromley Reflects on U.S. Embassy Celebration in Japan

Bromley poses with the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan and Member of the House of Councillors, Mizuho Fukushima, and Taiga Ishikawa, an openly gay elected Member of Toshima Ward.

The Council was invited to join the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the U.S. Consulate in Osaka last week to commemorate LGBT Pride month, and I had the great pleasure of traveling to Japan to participate in those programs.  I met with Japanese politicians, students, business leaders and LGBT advocates in a series of meetings and open discussions.  The meetings included a breakfast with political leaders, including some of the first out politicians in Japan, a small but impressive group that is gaining respect due to the quality of their service and their leadership in an otherwise treacherous political landscape.

In Osaka, openly gay U.S. Consul General Patrick Linehan welcomed me and moderated an open discussion about LGBT equality in the United States and beyond.  He and his husband, Emerson Kaneguske, have been role models in support of LGBT equality in Japan and have spoken publicly to the Japanese press about their relationship on a number of occasions.  Indeed, they may be one of the most famous gay couples in Japan.  They are also proud representatives of the diversity of our country.

In Osaka, some students were appropriately skeptical of U.S. leadership in support of LGBT equality globally, especially when so much remains to be done in the United States to further the cause of human rights in our own country.  And then there were those who are still upset with our country’s decision to invade Iraq—a grudge that I assured them I shared.  But I was happy to point to Secretary Clinton’s landmark speech at the United Nations in Geneva last December, where she spoke with resolute humility and absolute clarity to declare that gay rights are human rights.

In her UN speech, Secretary Clinton recognized that our own country’s record is far from perfect and that not everyone will agree with everything we do.  And she recognized that too many LGBT Americans have suffered—and continue to suffer—grave violence and discrimination in their lives.  But this month in particular, as we celebrate the progress we have made and the journey that lies ahead in the march toward full equality, it is altogether fitting that our embassies are opening their doors to promote honest conversations about the rights and dignity of LGBT communities around the world.  In the words of Secretary Clinton, that “constellation of conversations in places big and small,” is the first step in recognizing and protecting the human rights of LGBT people everywhere.

My week in Japan was capped by the first Pride reception at the Tokyo residence of U.S. Ambassador John Roos.  The reception brought together hundreds of political, economic and civil society leaders.  The Ambassador and Counsel General Linehan presented an award to the first transgender politician in Japan, Aya Kamikawa.  The Consul General also offered a very personal reflection on his service in the U.S. Foreign Service, noting that when he joined the State Department he was told in his first security briefing that there was no room for “homos.”  His journey from that day to today, serving now as a senior U.S. diplomat with his husband at his side, provided a personal narrative that touched both the Americans and the Japanese in the room.  Stars and Stripes also covered the poignant story of Master Sgt. Marc Maschhoff, who noted that after living in secret in the Air Force for 23 years, “now I’m invited to a reception by the emissary of the president of the United States,” where he proudly introduced his boyfriend to politicians and diplomats in the audience. That, too, made quite an impression.

Embassies around the world are hosting similar Pride receptions this month, and to me they demonstrate the remarkable potential that exists for the United States to promote dialogue in countries that may have even more difficulty than we do in speaking respectfully about LGBT equality.  When the ambassador, as emissary of the president, opens the discussion, it sends a powerful message to the world about the importance our country places on the conversation.  By including LGBT leaders, it personalizes the conversation in an important way.  And that, I think, creates the space for that constellation of conversations that must ultimately sustain our movement for global equality.

Julie Dorf named to Go Magazines “100 Women That We Love”

Julie Dorf, Go Magazine's 100 Women We Love

photo: Ana Grillo

The leader of our nation has come out in support of LGBT equal rights—but millions of LGBT people around the globe have no such government advocate. Fortunately, they do have Julie Dorf. A leader in the movement toward international LGBT equality for the past 25 years, Dorf’s work ranges from lecturing on reparations for homosexual victims of Nazi persecution to acting as a philanthropic consultant for the world’s major social justice foundations. Based in San Francisco, she currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the Council for Global Equality, an organization she helped create and which advocates for LGBT-inclusive American foreign policy. Dorf also founded and directed the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) from 1990 to 2000, which advances the human rights of all people subjected to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. Abuse of LGBT individuals around the world is intractable—but Dorf is buoyed the fact that she “get[s] to work with and be inspired by so many amazing activists and thinkers from all over the world. I wake up every day feeling so fortunate. It is truly a privilege and a source of huge satisfaction to help make change for LGBT communities.” Find out who else made the list.

Secretary Clinton Delivers a Video Message for Pride Month

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a video message for Pride Month. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/06/192136.htm.

Activist discusses impact of Obama’s gay marriage support

Courtesy: American Embassy

Repost from The Japan Times

By AYAKO MIEStaff writer

The recent endorsement of gay marriage by U.S. President Barack Obama was a milestone for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and could gain more support among younger voters who already overwhelmingly back same-sex marriages, according to a prominent American gay rights activist.

“I am optimistic that the polling is going to show eventually that it’s going to have a minimum impact on actual votes, and eventually gain some ground,” Bromley said during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.Mark Bromley, chairman of the Council for Global Equality, a 21-group coalition seeking a clearer and stronger U.S. position on global LGBT issues, said Monday in Tokyo that while same-sex marriage would be an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, it would not take center stage in a way that it could hurt the re-election chances of Obama, who in May became the first sitting U.S. leader to support gay marriage.

Bromley’s Tokyo visit was part of a push by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to celebrate LGBT Pride Month in June at U.S. embassies worldwide. Continue reading ‘Activist discusses impact of Obama’s gay marriage support’

US troops take part in LGBT Pride Month reception at US Embassy in Tokyo

COURTESY SAM MORSE

Repost from Stars and Stripes

TOKYO — Master Sgt. Marc Maschhoff revels in the turns his life has taken in the last year.

Last summer, Maschhoff had to keep his sexuality a secret or risk being kicked out of the Air Force.

On Monday, he was happily introducing his boyfriend to diplomats and politicians from around the world as the U.S. ambassador to Japan held a reception in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month.

“I can’t believe I’ve been in the Air Force 23 years living in secret, hiding who I am,” Maschhoff said before heading to the reception, which was closed to the media, “and now I’m invited to a reception by the emissary of the president of the United States.” Continue Reading.

Strengthening Protection for LGBT Refugees

Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration addresses crowd at event marking IDAHO.

Council Chair Mark Bromley moderated a panel at an event hosted by The Council for Global Equality, The Human Rights Campaign, and Human Rights First marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). The event also marked the release of The Road to Safety: Strengthening Protection of LGBTI Refugees in Uganda and Kenya by Human Rights First. Remarks were made by the Honorable Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; as well as Eleanor Acer, Director of the Refugee Protection Program at Human Rights First. HRC Legislative Director, Allison Herwitt opened the event. There was also an interactive panel discussion with Duncan Breen – Senior Associate for HRF’s Refugee Protection Program – and Larry Yungk – Senior Resettlement Officer of the UN Refugee Agency.

Click here to watch the full event.

Read Secretary Anne Richards remarks here.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

IDAHO is celebrated worldwide to commemorate the date, May 17, 1990, when homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization.

The Council for Global Equality is commemorating this day with the release of our NGO guide – Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders.

Council Releases NGO Guide to Human Rights

In Recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO):

Washington, DC – May 17, 2012 – The Council released a new NGO guide, Accessing U.S. Embassies: A Guide for LGBT Human Rights Defenders, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

English

Français

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The guide highlights the various diplomatic tools that U.S. embassies use to advance a range of human rights and development objectives, from diplomatic “démarches,” to support for LGBT refugees to the drafting of the annual human rights report that is required of every U.S. embassy.  It also looks at various opportunities that exist for U.S. embassies to support, both technically and financially, LGBT advocates in host countries.

The guide recognizes that U.S. embassies around the world have traditionally reached out to civil society organizations and local human rights defenders to support a broad human rights agenda.  Until recently, however, U.S. embassies rarely included LGBT civil society organizations or defenders in their outreach.  That has now changed, and U.S. embassies are reaching out to local LGBT groups to learn more about the human rights abuses that LGBT communities experience, and to explore opportunities to partner with civil society to address those abuses.

The guide points out that U.S. embassy support for the human rights and human dignity of LGBT communities reflects, in part, America’s attempt to promote fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and expression.  As such, the guide helps human rights defenders in other countries ground their requests in language that relates back to freedoms rooted in America’s Constitution, and that enjoy strong bipartisan support even amid other debates in Washington.

While focusing on the needs of one particularly invisible and at-risk group of human rights defenders, the Council also uses the guide to paint a broad justification for the inclusion of LGBT groups in U.S. human rights policy.   When U.S. embassies use the diplomatic, economic and political tools that are available to them to promote the rights and social inclusion of marginalized communities, including LGBT individuals, they stand firmly for human rights, but they also help foster tolerant, democratic and diverse societies that make better diplomatic allies and stronger economic partners over the longer term.



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