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House Foreign Affairs Committee Approves LGBT Amendment to Foreign Relations Authorization Bill

The House Foreign Affairs Committee accepted an amendment by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) to the House Foreign Relations Authorization bill on Thursday evening calling for “the Secretary of State to discourage foreign governments from condoning murder and other forms of physical violence that is directed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” This amendment was accepted by voice vote by the Committee.

Two other amendments were offered on LGBT issues. Both were defeated by a majority of the Republicans. However, Committee Chair, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), joined the Committee Democrats in support of both amendments.

One of the failed amendments, offered by Rep. Cicilline, would have required the State Department to stand for “fundamental freedoms” and stand against “human rights abuses,” paying particular attention to “the voices and rights” of religious and sexual minorities. The other, offered by Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA), would have required the State Department to work through U.S. diplomatic and consular missions to encourage countries to reform or repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality or consensual homosexual conduct. This amendment, if accepted, would have also required the State Department to improve U.S. human rights reporting on LGBT issues and include LGBT issues in human rights training courses for Foreign Service Officers.

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