Archive for the 'U.S. House of Representatives' Category

House LGBT Caucus Remembers Slain Turkish Transgender Activist Hande Kader

Press Statement – Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus
Washington, D.C. – The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus mourned the senseless murder of 22-year-old Turkish transgender activist Hande Kader and called on the Turkish government to take steps to protect the LGBT community from hate crimes.
“Last year I met gay and trans activists while on a fact-finding mission in Turkey and was inspired by their courage, so my heart breaks for Hande Kader’s friends and loved ones in the aftermath of this unspeakable tragedy,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18).  “The Turkish government must take strong action to ensure that LGBT Turks are protected, safe, and able to live their lives openly and freely. Violence against transgender people is a global crisis, and lawmakers and government officials all across the world, including in the United States, need to confront this epidemic before more lives are lost.”
Hande Kader’s murder reflects the deteriorating environment for Turkey’s LGBT community.  Turkey has some of the highest numbers of transgender murder within Europe according to the human rights group Transgender Europe.  This past June, authorities banned Istanbul Pride celebrations and used tear gas against activists who attempted to celebrate.  Rep. Maloney has previously led on letters to the Turkish Ambassador to the United States protesting crackdowns on the 2015 and 2016 Istanbul Pride Parades.
“The horrific and senseless murder of activist Hande Kader is a sobering reminder about the daily violence faced by transgender people across the world,” said Transgender Equality Task Force Chair Rep. Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley).  “No one should be intimidated, discriminated against, brutalized or murdered for openly expressing their gender identity. I call on the authorities to vigorously prosecute those involved, and I stand with all people who support justice for Hande.”
This past November, the Transgender Equality Task Force hosted a landmark forum violence against the transgender community, seeking to raise awareness about the epidemic against transgender people.
The mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. By serving as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and wellbeing for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Mark Bromley Testifies Before the U.S. Congress

Mark Bromley Testifies at Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Global Human Rights

Council Chair Mark Bromley testified before the U.S. Congress in a hearing focused on “Human Rights Under Siege Worldwide.”  The hearing was convened on the one-month anniversary of the tragic massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and it was the first time that the foreign affairs committee had ever invited a witness to speak to global human rights trends impacting LGBT individuals.  He testified that “targeted LGBT violence, and anti-LGBT propaganda in general, challenge fundamental democratic values and pluralistic societies everywhere.”  He concluded by noting that “countries that turn on their own LGBT citizens, or that scapegoat their LGBT citizens to distract from broader political or economic failings, are equally likely to turn on other ethnic or religious minorities and on human rights and democracy groups writ large.

You can watch the testimony here and read the statement for the record here.

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.

Tammy Baldwin, Susan Collins, David Cicilline and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Pen Op-Ed “Human Rights Issues Pollute Olympic Spirit”

Repost from USA Today

Host countries should promote tolerance. IOC failed on this principle in picking Russia.

On Friday, the world will come together to open the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia — a celebration of hard work and fair play, social responsibility, and international friendship. Every two years, the Olympic Games bring the world together, regardless of political ideology, to compete in feats of endurance, strength and sportsmanship. The issues that often divide our world seem to be suspended or even temporarily disappear during the Olympics. And instead of focusing on our differences, we come together as a global community to focus on what we have in common and our shared appreciation for our athletes and the games.

Although some individuals or groups have threatened to use the Games as an opportunity to wreak violence, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to organize the Games to promote peace through sport — diplomacy through fierce, but friendly competition. In many ways, the IOC has been successful in its mission, as stated in the Olympic Charter, “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

The Olympic Games are unparalleled in their ability to bring together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and to promote tolerance and acceptance of these differences. Fundamental Principle Six of the Olympic Charter explicitly prohibits “(a)ny form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.” This principle reflects the basic human right of equality before the law — the idea that everyone enjoys the same basic human rights free of discrimination. Continue Reading

Pressure Builds on Ukraine to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Washington, DC – March 13, 2013 –The Council for Global Equality applauds the 62 members of the U.S. Congress, who yesterday, called on Chairman Rybak of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, urging the country to refrain from passing pending anti-gay laws. These so-called “Homosexual Propaganda” laws clearly violate basic freedoms of assembly, speech, and press, with criminal sanctions of up to six years in prison for positive media portrayals of same-sex relationships or public gatherings for LGBT rights.

The bipartisan letter was led by Congressman Eric Swalwell of California who stated: “Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people. This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”

Tomorrow in Geneva, human rights defenders from the LGBT Council of Ukraine will be delivering a response to these proposed laws before the UN Human Rights Council, where they will condemn Ukraine’s blatant rejection of the UN’s call to scrap these bills. As part of the “Universal Periodic Review” of Ukraine’s human rights record, Ukrainian diplomats stated that their constitution provides sufficient protection, and that the government had no authority over members of Parliament. Olena Shevchenko, representing Ukrainian civil society, responded by noting: “Unfortunately, we need to recognize that the human rights situation of LGBTI people has worsened in Ukraine. Violence against LGBTI people has increased, and peaceful and legitimate public demonstrations against homophobic legislation have been banned and led to the arrest of LGBTI human rights defenders.”

In addition to the public sentiments of the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, members of the European Parliament have also written to their Ukrainian peers to express similar concerns and to call on them to reject the laws. “We hope this public pressure will encourage Ukrainian authorities to see the crucial need for protective legislation for LGBT citizens, as opposed to these outrageous attempts to criminalize basic freedoms of expression. As nondiscrimination laws and provisions are reviewed, sexual orientation and gender identity should be included as grounds for protection – as opposed to these laws, which purposefully exclude LGBT citizens from basic human rights protections,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.

Read the letter.

Related Content:  Sixty-two Members of Congress Call on the Ukrainian Parliament to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Sixty-two Members of Congress Call on the Ukrainian Parliament to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Ukraine Parliament LGBT rightsWASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Joe Crowley (NY-14) and David Cicilline (RI-1) led a bipartisan letter to the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament expressing their concerns about draft Ukrainian laws that violate the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies – specifically the freedoms of assembly and expression.

Currently two discriminatory bills are pending in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament. The bills prohibit “propaganda of same-sex sexual relations.”  If passed, the bills would ban sending out positive messages about being gay, whether through materials, the media or public gatherings like parades.  For example, the bills could restrict access to accurate information about HIV and AIDS.  Violators would face fines and up to six years in prison.

“Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell.  “This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”

“These proposals are a chilling threat to not only the LGBT community, but all Ukrainian citizens who deserve to live in a society where the fundamental rights of speech, expression, peaceful assembly and equality are protected,” said Rep. Joe Crowley.

“As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I am deeply disappointed to see some elements of the Ukrainian government supporting discrimination against members of the LGBT community,” said Rep. David Cicilline.  “We should never excuse these sorts of regressive proposals, and I look forward to working further to ensure that human rights are fully embraced across the world.”

“The LGBT community in Ukraine has seen a significant increase in targeted violence since the introductions of these bills. With homophobia on the rise in Ukraine, it’s crucial that the legislature protects the rights and freedoms of all its citizens,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.

Click here to read the letter

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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