Posts Tagged 'Secretary John Kerry'

Nisha Ayub Receives the 2016 Woman of Courage Award

Secretary Kerry's Remarks at the 2016 International Women of Courage Award

The Council for Global Equality congratulates Nisha Ayub, Director of SEED Malaysia, for receiving the 2016 Woman of Courage award from Secretary of State John Kerry at a ceremony in Washington DC today. She is the first transgender woman to ever receive this award. Ms. Ayub has been challenging Malaysia’s harsh treatment of transgender citizens, including the anti-cross dressing laws.

This award is not just about me–it’s about recognition and acceptance of trans people in regards to their gender identity. Today I am being fully recognized as a woman.

She previously met President Obama on his visit to Malaysia last year.

(Remarks by Secretary Kerry about Nisha Ayub at 21:21)

Read Secretary Kerry’s remarks

Learn more about the award and this year’s recipients.

Learn more about Nisha Ayub.

Related Content: Nisha dedicates Women of Courage Award to all transwomen (The Star Online)

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

State Department Expresses “Deep Concern with Nigeria’s Enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act”

Press Statement:
John Kerry, Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 13, 2014

The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.

Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.

Moreover, it is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution.

People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love.

We join with those in Nigeria who appeal for the protection of their fellow citizens’ fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.

Related Content:

Nigerian Leader Signs Law Banning Marriage – ABC News

President Jonathan Signs Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into Law – NAIJ

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.

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

Global Equality Fund Advances Human Rights of LGBT Communities

2013_0619_pride_ukraine-apphotoRepost from DipNote

PRIDE events abound in the month of June, especially here in the nation’s capital.  John Kerry has championed LGBT equality for over 30 years, and now as Secretary he is leading the Department’s global fight to promote the human rights of LGBT individuals across the world.  Today, Secretary Kerry delivered keynote remarks at the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) Pride event at the State Department.  During his speech, the Secretary acknowledged and thanked the governments and organizations that have partnered with the Secretary’s Global Equality Fund.  Launched in December 2011, the Fund represents a unique collaboration bridging governments, companies, foundations, and NGOs with the objective of advancing and protecting the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide.

The Fund currently provides critical emergency and long-term assistance in over 25 countries through small grants, capacity-building, and emergency protection.  Our staff in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world play a strong role in helping to manage the Global Equality Fund, providing assistance and resources to local communities, as well as oversight to ensure grants are implemented appropriately, maximizing the impact of small investments.  For example, the Fund supports regional workshops on legislative advocacy, human rights documentation and monitoring, and other capacity-building activities that strengthen the ability of local organizations to respond to the anti-LGBT legislation recently introduced in a number of eastern European countries. Continue Reading

Serious Human Rights Abuses Directed at LGBT Populations in Every Region

2012 Human Rights ReportsThe State Department’s latest country human rights reports, released April 19, confirm the lack of respect that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face in many areas of the world. However, the reports also point to a range of serious human rights abuses directed at LGBT populations in every region.

The Obama Administration has made a commendable effort to catalog instances and trends of LGBT abuse worldwide. We were pleased that Secretary Kerry specifically lauded the Department’s expanded coverage of LGBT rights in a speech marking the release of this year’s reports.

Of no surprise, hate crimes top the list of violent actions directed against LGBT people in many countries. But even more appalling, are the numerous instances of government officials’ complicity in LGBT abuse. For instance:

  • In Jamaica, prison wardens reportedly were involved in numerous incidents of violence against gay inmates.
  • In Chile, gay prisoners were denied access to hygienic services.
  • In Libya, a government-affiliated brigade arrested, detained, and beat 12 allegedly gay men who were at a private party.
  • A military unit in Moldova beat two gay men while verbally abusing them on grounds of their sexual orientation.
  • Cameroonian police detained three men, and jailed them for a week, because two of the men appeared effeminate; beat them until they confessed to being gay; then sentenced them to five years in prison.
  • In El Salvador, police officers allegedly physically abused a gay teenager, then made a phone call after which three gang members appeared and beat the teenager further.
  • In Kyrgyz Republic, LGBT groups documented 18 cases of police extortion.
  • Zimbabwean police raided the offices of an LGBT support organization; arrested 44 of its members; outed those members to families and employers (with consequences to jobs and family ties); and effectively closed the organization.

Many country reports also offer clear examples in which government authorities failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the rights of LGBT citizens. As examples:

  • In El Salvador, for instance, police officers are alleged to have verbally and physically abused a 17-year-old gay adolescent, forcing him off a bus and then calling local gang members who beat the victim unconscious.
  • In Namibia, police ridiculed LGBT citizens who reported abuse.
  • When hundreds of demonstrators in Burkina Faso demanded that a gay couple leave their home, police took no protective action.
  • And LGBT citizens in the former Soviet Union faced extreme challenges to their democratic freedoms of speech and assembly: in Ukraine, a gay pride event was canceled after police said they would not protect participants in the face of extremist threats of violence; in Russia, the city of Moscow refused to allow a gay pride march to proceed.

These and other cases of government action and inaction deserve serious protest, and we trust that the State Department has directed our ambassadors to make clear our government’s official concern. Equally important, we hope our embassies in these and other countries are using all other available diplomatic tools to raise the profile of LGBT rights, and are targeting our foreign assistance to respond to the needs of LGBT communities.

The 2012 reports also underscore a clear need for attention to infringements of the rights of transgender people, including cases of extreme violence and targeted killings:

  • In Nicaragua the report highlights the murder of a young transgender woman, whose body was found with signs of sexual assault.
  • Transgender individuals in Indonesia are routinely abused, detained, and forced to pay bribes by local authorities.
  • Japanese authorities refused to list a married transgender man’s two-year-old son, who was conceived by artificial insemination, as a legitimate child.
  • In Malaysia, transgender Muslim citizens were fined under Sharia law for dressing and posing as women.
  • In Uganda, a local news station aired a video of police taunting a transgender individual by forcing the individual to undress in front of jeering onlookers.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, a transgender sex worker was beaten, tortured, and raped repeatedly while in prison.

Unfortunately these cases are not unique. The reports bear witness to similar violations and indignities against transgender individuals in every region of the world. We hope that all embassies will examine more carefully the situation of transgender people in their host countries, with a view to raising awareness with government officials well in advance of next year’s reports.

Some of this year’s reports also indicate emerging areas of human rights concern:

  • “Reparative Therapy”: The United Arab Emirates government forced some caught in consensual same-sex activity to undergo psychological treatment and counseling, while the Chinese government and some school districts promoted “reparative therapy” to avoid having LGBT children.
  • Internet and Religious Freedom: LGBT religious groups in South Korea saw their internet forum taken down, and Korea’s National Human Rights Commission refused to rectify this infringement of religious freedom.

We urge the Administration to take suitable steps to address these new efforts at intolerance, which we know are spreading to other countries and regions.

We are not raising these country-specific examples from the reports because they are in any way unique. To the contrary, these specific instances are highlighted here because we know them to be extremely typical of violations we have seen replicated the world over. Our hope, however, is that the human rights reports will cast an uncommon light – and appropriate shame – on these common violations.

Finally, despite all of these concerns, we are encouraged by a number of positive signs that some governments are beginning to address inequalities in how LGBT people are treated. For instance:

  • Colombian authorities created a national public policy framework for LGBT rights, along with a working group aimed at identifying problems of LGBT abuse and exclusion that call for community solutions.
  • The Cypriot Ministry of Education allowed an anti-homophobia training program to be carried out for teachers, the first-ever LGBT awareness training allowed in that country’s schools.
  • In Bangladesh, two government ministries led a pilot job training project for transgender citizens, instituted an awareness program to alter negative views of transgender people, and established a foundation through which the program can continue.
  • Montenegro passed legislation to provide government funds for gender reassignment surgery.
  • An Algerian gay rights group has been allowed to advertise advocacy and support efforts for the Algerian LGBT community through a website and Facebook account.
  • Increased media freedom in Tunisia has increased the flow of LGBT-related information to members of the LGBT community.
  • Kenyan LGBT advocacy organizations noted that homophobic hate speech had declined due to improved enforcement of hate speech laws and better media self-regulation.
  • And Poland’s legislature now includes both openly gay and transgender members – a political process breakthrough that portends greater awareness of the rights of LGBT citizens in that country.

We applaud these instances of leadership in efforts to promote fully inclusive societies. They both echo and amplify the growing appreciation in our own country that LGBT citizens deserve nothing more, or less, than full dignity and equal treatment under the law.

Download the full compendium of sexual orientation and gender identity references in the report here.


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