Posts Tagged 'foreign policy'

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.

Clear-eyed Support for LGBT Rights an Important Component of U.S. Human Rights Policy

Secretary John Kerry GLIFAA Pride June 2013

Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, speaking at the GLIFAA Pride Event June 2013

At last month’s Pride celebration at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry made clear that he shares his predecessor’s clear-eyed support for LGBT rights as an important component of U.S. human rights policy (read a transcript or watch a video of Kerry’s speech).  Referring to “a moral obligation to stand in pride with LGBT individuals and advocates,” Kerry called for “using our tools of development and diplomacy” to achieve LGBT rights abroad.  He also underscored that “greater inclusion and protection of human rights, including those for LGBT people and for their communities, leads to greater stability, greater prosperity, and greater protection for the rights of human beings.

Coming together as a strong and unified coalition of 22 leading advocacy organizations, the Council has written to Secretary Kerry, commending his remarks as well as his strong Senate record on LGBT equality.  We also stressed that his personal leadership will be critical to anchoring American support for globally fair LGBT human rights policies in three key policy areas.

  • First, in global health policy, the Council is deeply concerned that some overseas PEPFAR implementers inappropriately may have allowed their personal views on homosexuality to undercut the broader, holistic public health policy goals that their program implementation is intended to support.  Secretary Kerry can play a pivotal role in strengthening our HIV/AIDS impact by directing the Global AIDS Coordinator and other international health policy actors to ensure that contractors – like counterpart government employees – are required to distinguish clearly between their private views, when expressed, and fidelity to the public policy goals they are charged to advance.
  • Second, this year’s State Department Human Rights Report to Congress underscores that hate crimes directed at LGBT people – often with the complicity of host government authorities – are a significant challenge to human rights in every corner of the world.  Under Secretary Kerry’s leadership, the State Department can partner with the FBI and the Department of Justice to shape international law enforcement training programs that drive home the responsibility of law enforcement personnel to protect LGBT people from violence and hate crimes and to collect data on hate violence to help target government reponses.  The Secretary equally can leave an important legacy by making this protection agenda a prominent part of his personal engagement with world leaders.
  • Third, our attention to LGBT human and civil rights needs abroad requires hand-in-glove cooperation between State, on the one hand, and all foreign affairs agencies charged with advancing our development policy goals.  Secretary Kerry can engage directly with his counterparts in relevant agencies to ensure that our policy and program goals are more tightly meshed.  These programs increasingly should be brought into alignment with World Bank and other international financial institution resources, for maximum impact.

A bipartisan Congressional letter addressing concerns raised in the 2012 Human Rights Reports was also sent to Secretary Kerry in June. In the letter, a group of 93 Members of Congress asked that the U.S. Department of State brief Congressional staff on programs to address inappropriate actions by government officials vis-à-vis LGBT citizens. The letter also called for dialogue at the highest levels with governments that are complicit in LGBT-related human rights abuse. You can read the full letter here

The Administration can make powerful progress toward an LGBT-fair world in its second term.  We look to Secretary Kerry, as America’s senior diplomat and senior agency leader, to exert the leadership needed to empower that progress.

Related Content:

Presidential Proclamation — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2013

Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

Remarks by President Obama and President Sall of the Republic of Senegal at Joint Press Conference

The Dark Closet

Foreign Policy MagazineRepost from Foreign Policy

Don’t let the Amina hoax distract attention from the plight of the real gay community in Syria.

DAMASCUS, Syria In a city like Damascus, with its beautiful culture, amazing people, lovely food, and unmatchable history, one feels like they could be anything — anything but gay, that is.

When Tom MacMaster, an American master’s degree student living in Scotland, revealed himself to be the writer behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog, it shattered the trust between the Middle Eastern blogosphere and the foreign media, and endangered the lives of queer people across the region who stepped out of the closet to answer questions about “Amina,” MacMaster’s fictional creation.

I remember sitting on a balcony overlooking rainy Damascus this April with my best friend in the city, who happens to be a lesbian, chatting about the queer community here. Continue reading at Foreign Policy

The Sudden Rise of a Pro-Gay Foreign Policy in the United States

repost from Huffington Post

by Javier Corrales | Professor of Political Science at Amherst College

The Obama administration is often criticized for betraying gay rights. Despite having helped repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, critics still charge that the White House continually reneges on its pledge to work hard to end marriage bans and gay bashing. Yet, on another unnoticed front, the administration has actually gone far beyond anything ever promised. The administration is taking steps to establish the first pro-gay foreign policy in the history of the United States.

So far, this foreign policy effort is off to a good start. But unless a more systematic approach is taken, the administration’s baby steps will remain just that: a decent impulse with little reach.

Arguably, the administration’s first steps have been laudable. In January, President Obama issued a public condemnation of the killing of gay activist David Kato in Uganda and of five members of the LGBT community in Honduras. In reality, Obama is merely treading behind the footsteps of Hillary Clinton, whom the The Advocate, a magazine covering LGBT news recently described as the “fiercest advocate” of gay rights in the administration. In fact, Clinton was the first first lady to march in a gay pride parade eleven years ago. Today, she intends to become the first secretary of state to make the State Department pro-gay.

Clinton’s mission is simple: eliminate “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” anywhere in the world. She declared this in a speech in June 2010, in which she also called on U.S. ambassadors and foreign governments to join this battle. She even designated staff to work on ways to advance LGBT rights, created funds to help victims of hate crimes abroad, and even came up with a new slogan — “Human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights,” an adaptation of a similar slogan she once used on behalf of woman’s rights. Continue reading article on the Huffington Post


Stay Informed

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 236 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Categories