Post submitted by Catherine Matous, HRC Policy Coordinator
On Wednesday, Feb. 3, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) reintroduced the International Human Rights Defense Act (IHRDA).
The International Human Rights Defense Act would build an unprecedented framework into U.S. diplomacy to protect LGBTQ rights worldwide. One of the most significant changes would be permanently codifying the position of a Special Envoy on LGBTQ issues. Former Secretary of State John Kerry appointed a Special Envoy in 2015, but the Trump administration left the position vacant.
The bill would also direct the State Department to devise a global strategy to address discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ community and instruct the State Department to include LGBTQ human rights as a required section in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Though this has been common practice at the State Department, the bill would make it a permanent requirement. At a time when 69 countries still criminalize same-sex sexual relations, and up to nine countries make it punishable by death, such protections can make the difference between life and death for a member of the LGBTQ community in many countries around the world.
HRC praises the Biden-Harris administration and pro-equality Members of Congress for taking bold action to secure rights for LGBTQ folks both at home and abroad. Congress should take action and make our world a safer place for all by passing this piece of legislation.
“The International Human Rights Defense Act will ensure that the rights of all LGBTQ people -- from every background -- continues to be a top priority in America’s foreign policy,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “This legislation would strengthen the ability of the Biden administration and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQ people at home and abroad. Thank you to Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alan Lowenthal for their leadership as human rights champions in Congress.”
HRC will continue to work with our coalition partners and the 117th pro-equality Congress to support and encourage the passage of crucial legislation that protects LGBTQ people around the world.