Report Submitted to State Department on LGBT Civil and Political Rights in U.S.
June 7, 2010
Last week, HRC joined forces with the Council for Global Equality and other organizations to submit a report on civil and political rights to the U.S. Department of State. The report highlights ways in which the U.S.’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals does not comply with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and also suggests steps to ensure increased compliance going forward. Specifically, the report focuses on the U.S.’s need to eradicate employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, deter hate crimes against LGBT individuals, protect LGBT individuals in detention from physical and sexual violence, and offer asylum to LGBT individuals persecuted in their native countries. Suggested steps include passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), swift repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law, passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), effective implementation of the new Hate Crimes Protection Act, and passage of the Refugee Protection Act of 2010. The ICCPR is a vital international human rights treaty that the U.S. ratified in 1992. The ICCPR requires party nations to protect human rights, such as the freedom from the arbitrary deprivation of life, protection of human dignity, freedom from torture, freedom of speech and equal treatment of individuals under the law. Like all parties to the ICCPR, the U.S. must submit regular reports to the Committee on the civil and political rights of its people. The State Department is currently working on a report for the Committee. The Committee will review the report in two public meetings. Additionally, representatives from the State Department will address the Committee and answer questions about U.S. compliance with the ICCPR. The Committee will then issue a list of concerns and suggestions regarding U.S. compliance with the ICCPR. Among its suggestions, the Committee may request that the U.S., within one year, report on measures it has taken to address the Committee’s concerns. After the U.S.’s last review in 2006, the Committee reported concerns about the protection of LGBT individuals. The Committee was especially concerned with the U.S.’s failure to fully protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination and hate crimes. The Committee often requests reports from U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on U.S. compliance with the ICCPR. The Committee considers these reports during the review process. Like the Committee, the State Department requests reports from NGOs. HRC’s joint report was sent to the State Department this week for its consideration. The report will later be provided to the Committee for consideration during its review of the U.S. in November. The ultimate goal of the ICCPR review process is to help nations identity civil and political rights issues currently occurring within their borders and to devise strategies to address these concerns. HRC will continue to work to ensure that the concerns of LGBT individuals in America are identified and addressed in the Committee’s review. Special thanks to Nahid Sorooshyari, HRC Law Fellow, for her contributions to this post and the ICCPR Report that was provided to the State Department.