Praise For State Dept. Response To Uganda's Enactment of Anti-Homosexuality Act

By BTL Staff

WASHINGTON - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, released a statement Thursday after the State Department announced new and additional steps to respond to the Government of Uganda's enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act, which makes homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison.

"The LGBT community continues to be targeted and persecuted with increasing regularity, with Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act among the most brutal and unacceptable of these recent attacks. I applaud the State Department's efforts to protect the basic human rights of LGBT people in Uganda. My legislation, the International Human Rights Defense Act, will ensure that responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community remains a foreign policy priority for our nation and will create a position at the State Department to coordinate this important effort. The international community should know that the United States is committed to protecting the human rights of the LGBT community everywhere."

Last week, Senator Markey was joined by 24 Senators (see below) in introducing The International Human Rights Defense Act (S. 2472), which would direct the Department of State to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals. Specifically, it would establish a position in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for coordinating that effort.

The International Human Rights Defense Act (S. 2472) would direct the Department of State to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals establish a position in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for coordinating that effort.

More than 80 nations around the world have laws that criminalize homosexuality, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia. In seven countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. The adoption of these hateful laws has sped up in recent years, and the effects of discriminatory laws can be felt throughout society.

"For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defending the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere," said Senator Markey. "The International Human Rights Defense Act will foster a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies so we can meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe."

A copy of the International Human Rights Defense Act can be found HERE. A one-page summary can be found HERE.

Specifically, This International Human Rights Defense Act directs the Department of State to:

- Make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals.

- Coordinate efforts to promote international LGBT human rights with local advocacy groups, governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector.

- Create the position of "Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Peoples" in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which will be responsible for all inter-bureau and inter-agency coordination of the United States government's efforts to defend human rights for the LGBT community internationally.

- Continue to include a section on LGBT international human rights in the annual State Department Report on Human Rights.

Original Cosponsors: Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).


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