Archive for the 'Central America' Category

Engel Sends Bipartisan Letter to USAID Urging Funding for LGBT Rights in Central America

Rep. Eliot EnglePress Statement from Rep. Eliot L. Engel

MARCH 12, WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Representative Eliot L. Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was joined by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Richard Hanna (R-NY), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Chris Gibson (R-NY), in calling on the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide funding for the protection of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Specifically, the letter states that given the dangerous levels of crime and violence committed against LGBT individuals in these countries, existing Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) funding should be made available to LGBT human rights groups in the subregion. In Honduras alone, more than 90 LGBT people were killed between 2009 and 2012, and many others were victims of violence and harassment.

“As former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, ‘Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.’ As we ramp up our country’s investment in Central America, we need to protect the subregion’s most vulnerable populations. This means protecting the basic human rights of LGBT individuals and ensuring that citizens of these countries are not killed or assaulted just because of who they are,” said Engel.

Read the letter here

Health Authorities Pledge to Improve Access to Health Care for LGBT People

Washington, DC, 3 October 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — Health authorities from throughout the Americas pledged to promote equitable access to health care for lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT), during the 52nd Directing Council meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is being held this week in Washington, D.C.

Ministers of health and other delegates from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean approved a resolution in which they committed to promote equal access to health care in their countries’ policies, plans and legislation.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne expressed support for the resolution, saying everyone has the right to health care and adding that PAHO would work with its member countries to address these issues.

The resolution, presented by the United States and supported by delegates from other PAHO member countries, calls for efforts to overcome stigma and discrimination against LGBTs in the health sector, which often prevents them from accessing needed health services. It also calls for respect for the human dignity and the right to health of LGBT people as well as greater awareness of the diversity of gender expression and gender identity.

“The barriers that LGBT people face in accessing health services—ranging from disrespectful treatment to denial of care—contribute to poor health outcomes,” said Nils Daulaire, assistant secretary for global affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in presenting the resolution.

Barriers to care for LGBT people include outright denial of care, poor care, disrespectful treatment or even abuse, restrictions against including significant individuals in family treatment of in support and decision-making roles, inappropriate assumptions about the causes of health or behavioral conditions, avoidance of treatment, and poor understanding on the part of health providers of the specific health-care needs of LGBT persons, including trauma-related and behavioral health issues related to discrimination.

LGBT persons experience worse health disparities and outcomes than heterosexual persons in every country across the globe. They have higher rates of depression, anxiety, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, suicide or suicidal ideation, as a result of chronic stress, social isolation, and disconnectedness from a range of health and support services.

The stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBT people in the health sector often keeps them from accessing health services when they need them. The resolution calls for eliminating inequalities in health, including those associated with gender identity and gender expression.

Etienne said PAHO would prepare a report on the health status of LGBT persons and the barriers they face in accessing health-care services, as well as the impact of that reduced access, to help find solutions to these problems.

PAHO is the world’s oldest international public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples.

For more information:

PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

Links:

CD52/18
—  Addressing the Causes of Disparities in Health Service Access and Utilization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGTB) Persons

http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=23145&Itemid=270&lang=en

President Obama Comments on Yesterday’s DOMA Supreme Court Ruling

President Obama’s remarks at a joint press conference in Senegal, where after speaking about yesterday’s Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he addressed the treatment of LGBT people in Africa.

You can read the transcripts from the full press conference here.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, I think the Supreme Court ruling yesterday was not simply a victory for the LGBT community, it’s a victory for American democracy.  I believe at the root of who we are as a people, who we are as Americans is the basic precept that we are all equal under the law.  We believe in basic fairness.  And what I think yesterday’s ruling signifies is one more step towards ensuring that those basic principles apply to everybody.

When I spoke to Ms. Windsor — 83 years old — and I thought about the 40 years of her relationship and her partner, who is now passed, for her to live to see this day where that relationship was the vehicle whereby more people received their rights and are recognized as a testament to the love and commitment that they have made to each other, that was special.  And that’s just a microcosm of what it meant for families and their children all across America.  So it was a proud day I think for America.

Now, as you point out, there are a whole lot of implications that flow from it, because the Supreme Court did not make a blanket ruling that applies nationally, but rather lifted up the ability of states to recognize the dignity and respect of same-sex marriage, and that the federal government couldn’t negate the decision by those states.  We now have to comb through every federal statute.  And although we hadn’t pre-judged what the ruling had been, I had asked my White House Counsel to help work with lawyers across every agency in the federal government to start getting a sense of what statutes would be implicated and what it will mean for us to administratively apply the rule that federal benefits apply to all married couples.

What’s true though is that you still have a whole bunch of states that do not recognize it.  The Supreme Court continues to leave it up to the states to make these decisions.  And we are going to have to go back and do a legal analysis of what that means.  It’s my personal belief — but I’m speaking now as a President as opposed to as a lawyer — that if you’ve been married in Massachusetts and you move someplace else, you’re still married, and that under federal law you should be able to obtain the benefits of any lawfully married couple.  But I’m speaking as a President, not a lawyer.

So we’re going to be evaluating all these issues and making sure that we work through them in a systematic and prompt way, because now that the Supreme Court has spoken it’s important that people who deserve these benefits know that they’re getting them quickly.  And I know that, for example, Chuck Hagel already mentioned some work that the Department of Defense is doing on that front.  And I think we’re going to be seeing that in all the various agencies.

Now, this topic did not come up in the conversation that I had with President Sall in a bilateral meeting.  But let me just make a general statement.  The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa.  So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions.  And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally.  I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort.  That’s my personal view.  And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally.  And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated.  And I think that applies here as well.

Taking LGBT Business to the International Stage

LGBT Summit of the AmericasGuest blog post by Justin G. Nelson, Co-Founder and President of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) 

Last month, I had a chance to talk about international supply chain opportunities to a packed room of attendees at the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s National Business & Leadership Conference in Chicago. We were so honored that the conference sold-out and we had more than 500 people in attendance, including LGBT business owners, affiliate chamber leaders, allied organizations, and corporate representatives from more than 130 NGLCC partner companies.

Next week, the NGLCC will be in Colombia for the first-ever U.S. Government-certified LGBT Trade Mission to Colombia and the first-ever LGBT Summit of the Americas. We will bring together regional leaders, multinational corporate executives, leading entrepreneurs, and organizational partners like The Council for Global Equality, from across the region to discuss LGBT business imperatives.

The Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Government at large, understands the need for inclusive business models. In our meeting on August 28, Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank made clear that information on underserved business communities, be they gay, minority, women, disabled, or veteran-owned, was lacking, and that partnerships with community business organizations like the NGLCC are vital to understanding the needs of these businesses and their inclusion in wider programs – and more importantly, in the supply chain.

The NGLCC is proud of the network of LGBT Chambers of Commerce we’ve built across America and globally. We are so excited to be launching an affiliate chamber in Colombia during our trip, and as we continue to expand internationally, we know that our work with The Council for Global Equality will continue to advance the cause of LGBT equality around the world.

Honduras is test of new U.S. policy on gay rights

Honduras LGBT RIghts

Photo: Johny Magallanes / MCT

Repost from the Miami Herald

by Tim Johnson

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — From U.N. chambers to the halls of the State Department, global pressure on countries to protect the rights of gay and transgender people is rising.

For Josue Hernandez, the new emphasis can’t come fast enough.

The 33-year-old gay activist bears the scar of the bullet that grazed his skull in an attack a few years ago. He’s moved the office of his advocacy group four times. Still, he feels hunted in what is arguably the most homophobic nation in the Americas.

“We are in a deplorable state,” Hernandez said of gays in Honduras. “When we walk the streets, people shout insults at us and throw rocks. Parents move their children away.”

Three months ago, a U.N. report declared that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — or LGBT — violates core international human rights law. It listed nations where violations are most severe.

Joining a push that originated in Europe, the Obama administration said in December that respect for LGBT rights is now a factor in its foreign policy decisions.


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