WASHINGTON –– Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauds President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for creating a new senior-level position at the State Department to oversee the United States government’s efforts to support the human rights of LGBT people around the world.
“For the first time in our nation's history, LGBT people around the world will have a dedicated, full-time senior advocate in the U.S. State Department,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown tremendous leadership in championing the rights of LGBT people abroad, and we look forward to working closely with whomever is selected for this new role, as we continue to push back against laws and attitudes that lead to human rights violations against LGBT people.”
Last August, Griffin sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to take this important step for global equality. Griffin also joined a coalition letter led by American Jewish World Services in sending a similar message. This effort was bolstered by more than 26,000 HRC members who contacted Secretary Kerry’s office urging him to create the position. This year, HRC worked closely with the offices of Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) to introduce the International Human Rights Defense Act (S.302 / H.R. 590) which would create the position through legislative action.
“While there is currently strong momentum in the United States toward equality, there are many places in the world where the LGBT community is at risk, sometimes even for their lives,” said Griffin. “This is an important way for the United States to facilitate diplomatic conversations with countries where we see ongoing violence, harassment and discrimination of LGBT people.”
The situation for LGBT people around the world continues to change in multiple directions, as some countries embrace equality, while others turn towards discrimination. At this moment:
· Same-sex conduct is criminalized in 76 countries
· In 10 countries same-sex conduct is punishable by death
· So-called anti-LGBT “propaganda” laws inhibit LGBT advocacy in three countries
· Same-sex marriage licenses are issued in 20 countries
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