Post submitted by Limor Finkel, Former HRC Global Engagement Program Coordinator

Last week marked the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Europe’s Annual Conference in Zagreb, Croatia. Director of HRC’s Global Engagement Program, Ty Cobb, was one of the more than 250 activists from 45 countries around the world.

Representing the United States at the ILGA Europe Conference was Uzra Zeya, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department. In the Conference’s opening session, Uzra highlighted the recent marriage equality victories in countries like France and parts of the United Kingdom, while at the same time commenting on the recent backsliding of LGBT rights in places like Russia.

Though Russia is the only country in Europe with an anti-LGBT propaganda law on the books, several other countries in the former Soviet Bloc, such as the Ukraine, have considered similar bills. Acting Assistant Secretary Zeya echoed the current Administration’s belief that “such laws validate discrimination and lead to an increase in violence and intimidation.” This is evident in places like Russia where a spike in violence towards the LGBT community has erupted since the anti-propaganda law passed earlier this year.

Zeya furthered the State Department’s commitment to partner with European civil society and governmental organizations to fight for the full equality and inclusion of the LGBT community across that continent. She quoted President Obama’s 2011 memo to advance US involvement with international initiatives directed at the LGBT community. In that memo, the President directed all governmental agencies to “combat criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad and protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers” among many other necessary protections of the community.

To learn more about how HRC is engaged in the international LGBT movement and what is going on with our LGBT brothers and sisters across the world, visit  

Filed under: International

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