Posts Tagged 'Gay Pride'

Reflections On Pride This Year

As Pride season ends, some reflections come to mind – less on Pride celebrations per se than on this Administration’s approach to global LGBTI fairness and equality.

Our country’s values of fairness and equality mean that we should stand against inequalities and discrimination impacting LGBTI populations abroad.  And across President Obama’s two terms of office, our country’s commitment to global LGBT human rights became clear:

  • Human rights reports were revamped to include attention to atrocities and discrimination against LGBT and intersex people.
  • A Presidential Memorandum was crafted to set the national interest context and interagency framework for how the U.S. would approach LGBTI human rights abuse and inequality abroad.
  • Within this framework, the tools of U.S. foreign affairs agencies – police training, exchange programs, and efforts to strengthen equality-minded organizations overseas – were appropriately brought on line in a range of countries where LGBT populations have suffered hate crimes and abuse.
  • A new Special Envoy position was created, better to integrate the often-unique challenges impacting LGBTI populations into our human rights policies, and to work with other countries to address LGBTI inequalities and partner on corresponding opportunities.
  • The U.S. actively led in supporting LGBTI rights at the UN, and in encouraging respect for international norms with regard to LGBT and intersex people.
  • And at key moments, the U.S. President and Secretary of State spoke out against state-sanctioned homophobia – most notably with regard to Russia and Uganda.

Some of the tools referenced above remain in place.  Police sensitization on LGBTI population issues continues.  So do exchange programs, and other efforts to address the short shrift given to LGBT people in so many countries of the world.  A number of talented civil servants continue to give these issues their attention and ideas.

But the Trump Administration has cold-shouldered human rights as a guiding principle, and has no vision of a cohesive approach to LGBTI inequalities abroad.  It has dismembered the interagency coordination on global LGBT issues that began under Obama, providing political appointees with scant guidance as to how these issues should be folded into their programs.  The Administration has rescinded U.S. participation in the UN Human Rights Council, and no longer provides the same leadership in the UN’s core group on LGBTI issues – both vital fora for addressing LGBTI abuses and advancing fairness objectives.  It has left unfilled the Special Envoy position and gutted global women’s health programs that impact LGBT communities.  Increasingly it uses the principle of religious freedom to justify discrimination against our community, at home and abroad.  It has turned its back on refugees, including LGBT and intersex men and women fleeing the most vile and heart-wrenching repression of their very being.  And rather than embracing human rights, President Trump has chosen to embrace dictators that violate those rights – from Russia and Egypt, to Turkey and the Philippines.

If Trump had used his contacts with these dictators to insist on respect for human rights principles, we might have a different view of this strange and unprecedented embrace.  But there’s no reason to believe he has done so, and no evidence of any change either.  There’s also no reason to accept assertions that the U.S. voice and impact on human rights will be stronger, now that we’re outside the UN Human Rights Council, than it was when the U.S. debated in that body.

The only glimmer we’ve seen has been the President’s application of the Magnitsky Act sanctions to those most responsible for the carnage that Chechen authorities have inflicted against gay and lesbian citizens of that region.  But the buck on that carnage stops with Putin – and so far as we know, Trump has done nothing to press Russia’s president to stop these abuses.  Nor has he spoken critically – in public or, as far as anyone can tell us, in private – to atrocities carried out by the many other human rights abusers with whom he sadly has allied our country.

The human rights community has called “nonsense ” to any notion that this Administration is a defender of human rights.  So have a growing number of Congressional voices, in both houses, who have taken a stand that this country will not abandon its human rights mantle and heritage, nor its embrace of the principle that all men and women – including those in the LGBTI community – are created equal, and deserve equal protection under law, whether at home or abroad.

This is the heart and message of Pride.  It is what our country has stood for, and will stand for again.  We ask all who believe in America’s support for equality to join in insisting that those who represent us – and those who seek or claim the mantle of leadership – recommit to these values.  And we ask this Administration to do the same.

The Department of State Joins the World in Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Department_of_state.svgRepost from the U.S. Department of State

The Department of State joins the world in celebrating LGBT Pride Month and reaffirms its commitment to the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBT persons around the globe.

In the United States, we have made marked progress in tearing down the unjust and unfair barriers that have prevented the full realization of the human rights of LGBT persons. We know there is more to do, but here, the arc of history is bending towards justice.

I was proud to join my colleagues at our Embassy in London last August to announce that, going forward, same-sex spouses who applied for visas would have their applications considered in the same manner as those of opposite-sex spouses.

And just this week, President Obama announced his intention to sign an Executive Order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In many places around the world, however, trends are running in the opposite direction. LGBT individuals and their allies are harassed, arrested, and even killed because of who they are and the work they do. Governments are enacting laws that discriminate against LGBT individuals and their allies and restrict their fundamental human rights.

The United States strongly condemns these discriminatory acts and legislation and is working every day, both here in Washington and at our embassies and consulates around the world, to ensure that all persons can exercise their human rights, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We raise the human rights of LGBT persons both publicly and privately, and we support civil society organizations who are working on the frontlines to ensure equality and dignity for all. Through the Global Equality Fund – a partnership supported by 14 like-minded governments, foundations, corporations and non-profit organizations – the Department of State has allocated more than $9 million for both emergency and long term LGBT-related programming in more than 50 countries worldwide.

This important work, done in conjunction with allies from civil society, faith communities, the private sector and other governments, is central to our foreign policy.

So, to the activists, allies, and LGBT individuals on the front lines combatting discrimination, you have a partner in the United States. I stand with you and I wish you safe and happy 2014 Pride celebrations.

Related Content: Read Secretary Kerry’s remarks at the GLIFAA pride celebration

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.

Pride Retrospective: the U.S. Helsinki Commission Should Engage

Baltic Pride

photo: Associated Press

It’s common to think of Pride-related events as celebrations of gay and lesbian diversity, and indeed of community. Certainly that’s the spirit that pervades the Pride season in major U.S. cities. But Pride events in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region often carry a more basic message: that gays and lesbians deserve the same rights and privileges as any other people. And that message is not, of course, always welcome.

This as in past years, Pride events were a source of controversy, even hostility, in much of the east European region. In Poland and Croatia, anti-gay protesters disrupted parades – and while police generally sought to protect Pride participants, many observers saw the response in Croatia as inadequate to the task. Permits were denied in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, Russian security forces detained Pride marchers, ignoring the right of free assembly that the Russian constitution ostensibly protects.

While the State Department rightly protested Russian actions, the U.S. Helsinki Commission was silent.  A bipartisan Congressional panel, the Commission traditionally has been a fierce advocate of protecting and advancing what we see as fundamental freedoms, including the rights to free speech, peaceable assembly and freedom of expression. However, the Commission took no public stand against the abuses witnessed in this year’s Pride season, nor did it publicly commend those governments that properly sought to protect these basic rights.

Speaking loudly to broad principles but remaining silent when those principles are not applied – in this case, to gay people – is an all-hat-and-no-cattle approach that undercuts our county’s foreign policy credibility. It hollows out the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy priority of developing a greater understanding that countries which respect and protect their citizens’ rights are, in fact, our best partners in enlarging the boundaries of freedom and prosperity worldwide. And it undercuts U.S. leadership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where America’s voice has been crucial in forging a better transatlantic understanding of the democratic rights and obligations that governments must protect.

That OSCE leadership can be regained if, over the next nine months, the Commission finds ways to advocate that the rights of gay and transgender people must be protected, at Pride events and beyond. Through briefings or hearings, public statements and private communications to OSCE partners, the Commission can make clear that the civil and human rights of LGBT people are no less important than those enjoyed by any other segment of the population. In this way, the Commission can convincingly reassert fundamental U.S. principles while establishing its own relevance to some of the most active and fractious battles for human rights in the world today.

Human Rights First Condemns Decision to Ban Moscow Gay Pride

Moscow Skyline, Moscow PridePress Statement from Council Member Human Rights First

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Human Rights First,
C: 202-279-0005, W: 202-265-3000 | Jessica@rabinowitz-dorf.com

New York, NY—Human Rights First condemns the decision by the Moscow authorities—issued on the International Day Against Homophobia—to deny permission for a Moscow gay pride event. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Moscow City Hall has banned such an event. City officials cited numerous letters from public officials, religious organizations and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. Similar bans were pronounced illegal by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in October 2010.

“We deeply regret the missed opportunity of the new Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to break with the discriminatory policies of his predecessor in this regard,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “Gay rights are human rights in Russia, just as they are in the rest of the world.  We call on the Moscow City Hall to reconsider the latest ban on Moscow Pride in line with the recent European Court of Human Rights verdict that upheld the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Russians to organize public events in accordance to the Russian Constitution.” Continue reading ‘Human Rights First Condemns Decision to Ban Moscow Gay Pride’


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