LGBTQ rights are human rights and human rights are LGBTQ rights. Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee recognized this fundamental principle by passing the Global Respect Act, bipartisan legislation focused on protecting the human rights of LGBTQ people around the world.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Global Respect Act on June 13, 2019 in the U.S. House and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the bill in the Senate. The bill would block travel to the U.S. for people who have been responsible for the abuse or persecution of LGBTQ people abroad. While the U.S. government already has the power to withhold visas from human rights violators, this legislation would require the State Department to draw up a list of LGBTQ human rights abusers, which would be updated twice each year and submitted to Congress. After being introduced in each of the last several Congresses, this is the first time that a committee has decided to consider the legislation.
In advancing the bill, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) called it “important human rights legislation.” He added that “we need to condemn persecution and violence against LGBT communities wherever and whenever it happens and those responsible for this sort of bigotry need to face justice.”
The lead author of the bill, Rep. Cicilline, said that his bill would “ensure that human rights abusers are held accountable.” He added, “It speaks volumes to the LGBTI community around the world that the United States House stands united in support of the fundamental rights of the LGBTI community to live with dignity and free from violence, unlawful detention, torture and other indignities.”
“We are grateful to Rep. Cicilline for his ongoing leadership on LGBTQ human rights both at home and abroad, and to Chairman Engel for making this a priority for his committee” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “Especially at a time when the current administration consistently ignores human rights violations abroad, it is crucial that Congress make their voices heard in support of human rights and the right of every person to be who they are and to love who they love."