Yesterday, HRC President Chad Griffin joined other LGBT leaders in urging President Obama to address recent human rights violations in Brunei before continuing trade negotiations with the nation. The Government of Brunei Darussalam recently enacted a harsh penal code that includes stoning for same-sex acts. Other capital offenses include rape and adultery.
The United States is beginning negotiations with eleven other countries—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam—on a major trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) The final TPP would significantly expand access to markets and trade among the participating countries. While increased economic engagement has the potential to expand the freedom and equality enjoyed by LGBT citizens in countries like the United States, Canada and Japan to the other TPP participants, such positive steps are far from guaranteed. As Chad Griffin and the other LGBT leaders said in their letter: “In 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech to the United Nations stating that the U.S. government would use every means at its disposal to protect the basic human rights of LGBT people around the world. Indeed, both you and Vice President Biden have spoken passionately about protecting LGBT rights around the world. It would be inconsistent with U.S. human rights policy to enter into a preferential trade agreement with a nation that so vagrantly violates the human rights of its citizens.”
The letter, which can be read in full here, was signed by leadership at Pride at Work, AFL-CIO, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and National Center for Transgender Equality. Also yesterday, 119 members of the House of Representatives also called on the Administration to address Brunei’s human rights violations before continuing trade negotiations.