Human Rights Campaign Hails House Passage of Global Respect Act to Help Fight for International LGBTQ+ Rights

by Delphine Luneau

Legislation Would Bar Those Who Commit Human Rights Violations Against LGBTQ+ Populations from Entering United States

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — praised the House of Representatives for voting today to pass the Global Respect Act, an important piece of legislation that holds individuals around the world accountable for committing human rights abuses against their LGBTQ+ populations.

“LGBTQ+ people - wherever they may live - are entitled to live freely, enjoy full equal rights and be free from violence, discrimination and abuse,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “Unfortunately, there are many countries where this is not currently possible. In some countries, LGBTQ+ people face violent persecution and must hide their core identity just to stay alive. By passing this legislation that would restrict people who engage in these terrible abuses from entering the U.S., we can send a message that our country stands with the LGBTQ+ people of every nation and won’t stop fighting for their freedom and equal rights.”

The Global Respect Act 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.

The primary sponsors of the bipartisan bill are Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in the House and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate. The legislation has 74 cosponsors in the House and 9 in the Senate.

LGBTQ+ people around the world continue to face discrimination, violence, and bigotry. Sixty-eight countries criminalize same-sex sexual relations. That means that more than one-third of United Nations Member States criminalize consenting, adult, same-sex sexual relations. In up to nine countries, same-sex sexual relations may be punishable by death, and so-called anti-LGBTQ+ “propaganda” laws inhibit LGBTQ+ advocacy in at least three countries.

The Global Respect Act would provide a means to prevent individuals who violate the human rights of LGBTQ+ people from entry into the United States. The bill would:

  • Require the Executive Branch to biannually send Congress a list of foreign persons responsible for, complicit in, or who have incited extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violations of human rights based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Deny or revoke visas to individuals placed on the list, with waivers for national security or to allow attendance at the United Nations;
  • Require the annual State Department Report on Human Rights to include a section on LGBTQ+ international human rights, as well as an annual report to Congress on the status of the law’s effectiveness; and
  • Require the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to designate a staffer responsible for tracking violence, criminalization, and restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in foreign countries based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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