Archive for the 'Congress' Category

The Council for Global Equality calls on Congress to support DREAMERS

SUPPORT DREAMERSAn estimated 75,000  DREAMERs are believed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As important as the DREAM Act is to our country’s humanitarian values and image, it’s also the only fair way of putting the lives and futures of these faultless and hopeful young people on the right track.

The Council for Global Equality urges Congress to do the right thing and make the Dream Act a reality. 

Sen. Markey & Rep. Lowenthal Introduce Legislation Affirming U.S. Commitment to International LGBT Rights

Markey-Lowenthal

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)

Press Statement from the office of Senator Edward J. Markey

Washington (January 29, 2015) – In the wake of President Obama’s commitment in the State of the Union to defend the human rights of the LGBT community, today Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) introduced bicameral legislation to affirm that LGBT human rights are a foreign policy priority for the U.S. government. Originally introduced last year by Senator Markey, the International Human Rights Defense Actwould direct the State Department to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals. The legislation would establish a Special Envoy position in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to coordinate that effort. More than 80 nations around the world have laws that criminalize homosexuality, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia. In seven countries, homosexuality is punishable by death.

“When President Obama addressed the nation and committed to defending the human rights of the LGBT community, we made that commitment to the world,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “With the rights of the LGBT community under attack around the globe, we must stand hand-in-hand with them in the struggle for recognition and equality everywhere. It is vital to have a dedicated position at the State Department spearheading that effort.  The International Human Rights Defense Act will promote a coordinated effort across the federal government to support our position as a model for defending LGBT and human rights around the world, and I thank Rep. Lowenthal for his partnership on this important legislation.” Continue Reading

A copy of the International Human Rights Defense Act can be found HERE. A one-page summary can be found HERE.

Tierney Introduces Bipartisan International Human Rights Defense Act

John F. TierneyFrom the Office of John F. Tierney

Bill would make LGBT equality a critical U.S. international human rights priority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA), along with Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY), introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act. This bipartisan legislation would direct the U.S. Department of State to make international LGBT human rights a foreign policy priority and would establish a position within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to be responsible for coordinating that effort.

“While the United States has been making strides toward promoting and achieving LGBT equality here in our country, this is unfortunately not the case globally. We must lead the fight to help end discrimination and secure basic human rights for LGBT individuals around the world,” said Congressman John Tierney. “The International Human Rights Defense Act would bolster America’s commitment to the international LGBT community by facilitating federal government coordination on making the promotion of international LGBT human rights a priority. As the United States continues its steady movement toward providing fundamental human rights for all people regardless of who they love, it is our obligation to fight for those same rights for LGBT individuals facing hardships in other countries.”

 “I am proud to join with Reps. Tierney, Hanna, Cicilline, Esty,Lowenthal, McGovern and Schakowsky to introduce this important legislation.  For the first time in the history of our country, we are aiming to establish a concrete policy and process by which we can best deploy our considerable diplomatic clout and resources towards protecting victims of LGBT discrimination,” said Congressman Chris Gibson.  “On our best day, other countries want to be like us, and for that reason it is crucial that we lead by example with our founding principles of human dignity, freedom, and equal protection.  I encourage all of my colleagues to join us in this effort.”

“Discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation is unacceptable anywhere it happens,” Congressman Richard Hanna said. “In the United States we are continuing to work toward full equality and tolerance for all Americans, including our LGBT friends, family members and coworkers. There is still much work to be done at home and around the world. As a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all people, the U.S. must continue to play a leading role in this effort. No one should face unjust treatment – or be classified as a criminal – based on who they love. It is a basic human right that all people deserve. I am pleased to join Reps. Tierney and Gibson in this effort and I look forward to more bipartisan support from our colleagues in the House.”

“While the United States has made huge strides forward for LGBT equality, we know that the same is not true in many countries where LGBT people face harassment, bigotry, and violence on a daily basis,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Global human rights – including human rights for LGBT people – must be a top priority of the U.S. Government.  The Human Rights Campaign is proud to support the International Human Rights Defense Act, which would build an unprecedented framework into U.S. diplomacy to protect LGBT rights worldwide.  We thank Congressman Tierney for his leadership on this important issue.”

“Around the globe, LGBT people face threats, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis,” said Amnesty International USA Executive Director, Steven Hawkins. “The United States can and must play a lead role in ending the human rights abuses that the LGBT community faces around the world. The International Human Rights Defense Act will help to ensure that the United States lives up to its global commitment to protect and advance LGBT rights as human rights.”

“Around the world, LGBT individuals are denied the fundamental freedoms that every American holds dear, and the universal human rights their governments have pledged to respect.  A Special Envoy can work with other countries to strengthen these freedoms and commitments, and to ensure that cultural differences are not an excuse for discrimination and abuse.  The Council for Global Equality welcomes this bill’s introduction and urges its speedy passage,” said Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor, Council for Global Equality.

 “We support Rep. Tierney for taking leadership in the House on the issue of rights for LGBTI persons,” said Chloe Schwenke, vice president for global programs at Freedom House. “Freedom House welcomes the genuine bipartisan base of support for fundamental human rights performance as covered by this bill. The legislation, which is the House companion of the International Human Rights Defense Act introduced by Sen. Ed Markey in the Senate last month, would solidify the United States’ commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTI people around the world.  It is vital that the United States support these communities through foreign assistance and diplomacy, and this legislation would give the State Department and USAID additional tools to do so.”

The International Human Rights Defense Act is supported by a number of prominent equality organizations including Amnesty International USA, Council for Global Equality, RFK Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Freedom House, Human Rights First, American Jewish World Service, National Center for Transgender Equality, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Advocates for Youth.

Similar legislation was recently filed in the Senate by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). A full list of original cosponsors: Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

House Members Urge Secretary Kerry to Protect LGBT People at 2014 Sochi Olympics

Jerrold Nadler, Official Portrait, c112th CongressA bipartisan group of 87 House members have signed on to a letter asking Secretary Kerry, “what diplomatic measures the State Department is planning to take to ensure that American LGBT athletes, staff and spectators, and their supporters, are not arrested, detained or otherwise penalized during the Sochi Games.”

The effort was lead by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) who in a press statement said, “The United States must do everything we can to protect those Americans who are traveling to Russia for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this winter. Russia’s anti-LGBT laws defy basic human rights that should be guaranteed to everyone at all times and in all places. These laws are completely contrary to the uniting spirit of the Olympics, which brings diverse nations together in a spirit of peaceful and friendly competition.”

Read the full letter here.

You can find the list of names who signed on here.

Read Rep. Nadler’s press statement here.

The Immigration Bill: What’s There, What’s Missing & What’s Next

The Immigration Bill: What’s There, What’s Missing & What’s NextRepost from Immigration Equality

This afternoon, the long-anticipated comprehensive immigration reform bill from the Senate’s “Gang of 8” will finally be introduced. It is a big, complex piece of legislation that addresses many different immigration issues. Our legal team is hard at work reading the bill and analyzing its many proposals, and what those mean for LGBT immigrants and their families.

We already know, however, some of the high – and low – points of the bill.

The legislation includes a path to citizenship for many undocumented people. It also includes the DREAM Act, which will allow young, undocumented youth (many of whom are LGBT) a path to citizenship as well. Both of these components will help countless immigrants – including LGBT immigrants – finally emerge from the shadows and have an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our country. The bill also includes repeal of the 1-year filing deadline for individuals seeking asylum in the United States, which is a significant obstacle faced by many LGBT asylum seekers. Immigration Equality supports all of these important measures.

As we anticipated, however, the base bill does not include the Uniting American Families Act. (A “base bill” is the first version of the legislation, before any lawmakers have an opportunity to make amendments, or changes, to the language.)

UAFA’s exclusion renders the bill incomplete. It is not comprehensive and is does not reflect the values or diversity of our country. Senators on the Judiciary Committee must allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to add UAFA as an amendment during that process.  We need a majority of Committee members to support adding UAFA to the bill. This means the time is NOW to contact Judiciary Committee Senators and demand they vote for UAFA during the amendment process. Continue Reading

Calling for Basic Freedoms of Speech and Assembly for LGBT Moldovan Citizens

On July 3, thirty members of the United States House of Representatives—both Republican and Democrat—sent letters to Moldova’s Prime Minister and to the President of the Moldovan Parliament. This bipartisan letter expressed concern about a number of recent events that display a disrespect of basic freedoms of speech and assembly for LGBT Moldovan citizens. In June, the Law on Ensuring Equality, the anti-discrimination bill that has been under preparation since 2008,  was stripped of sexual orientation in its final version and a provision defining marriage as between a man and a woman was inserted. Furthermore, the Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament has made a litany of homophobic and derogatory public statements about LGBT people as explanation for the changes in the legislation, and for which Moldovan civil society has demanded an apology .

In the months prior to the legislation, a dozen municipalities and provinces passed identical declarations that call for special zones of support for the Moldovan Orthodox Church and a variety of prohibitions on freedom of assembly and speech by LGBT Moldovan citizens. The Council for Global Equality continues to bring the attention of U.S. policy makers to the disturbing trend in many former Soviet republics towards restricting basic freedoms of assembly and speech, and the rising homophobia in the region.

Related: ILGA-Europe and ICJ’s recent report on “Homosexual Propaganda” Bans

Calling for the Rejection of Shocking Anti-Semitism and Homophobia Advocated by Right Wing Hungarian Political Party

Representative Joseph Crowley (NY-7)

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (NY-7), along with 49 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban strongly rejecting recent, shocking anti-Semitic and homophobic positions supported by the far-right political party, Jobbik. The lawmakers encouraged Hungary’s leaders to take a firm stand against these positions, including by speaking forcefully and publicly against anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and intolerance in the country. Jobbik captured third place in Hungary’s recent elections – just two points behind the Socialists who had been the previous governing party.

“This kind of despicable hate speech from members of the Jobbik party denigrates, intimidates and scapegoats minorities in Hungary and has no place in any society,” said Rep. Crowley, who has been an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism and intolerance throughout the world. “The encouragement of hate, both in speech and action, by the Jobbik party is alarming, not only to those victimized in Hungary, but the global community. Jobbik leaders need to know the world is watching.”

In the letter, the members condemn statements by Jobbik’s elected officials, such as that of its presidential candidate who referred to Israeli Jews as “lice-infested, dirty murders,” and its official magazine, which contains anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric. In addition, the members express serious concerns about Jobbik’s attacks on Hungary’s LGBT community, including calling for the firing of a prominent leader on the basis of his presumed sexuality and urging the imprisonment of those who allegedly “promote” homosexuality.

“We are deeply concerned, however, by anti-Semitic and homophobic positions espoused by members of the Jobbik party…These positions have no place in civilized discourse and must not be allowed to go unchallenged,” write the lawmakers.

The letter is supported by the American Jewish Committee, Human Rights Campaign and the Council for Global Equality. Read the full text of the letter to Prime Minister Orban after the jump. Continue reading ‘Calling for the Rejection of Shocking Anti-Semitism and Homophobia Advocated by Right Wing Hungarian Political Party’


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