Press Release invokes questions
The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.”
–President Barack Obama
By Melanie Nathan and Cathy Kristofferson April 14, 2013.
The Press release: Secretary of State John Kerry has committed to advancing the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals as a central part of our human rights engagement. Taking into account the Secretary’s commitment as well as the Presidential Memorandum issued December 6, 2011, that directs all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) has developed a regional strategy that strives to eliminate violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Respect for the human rights of LGBT persons in the Western Hemisphere varies dramatically by country. Some countries offer legal protections for LGBT persons, whereas others have laws that criminalize same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults. Recognizing that violence and discrimination based on a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity hinder the prosperity of countries, WHA has developed a four-part strategy to:
- Expand public outreach and awareness of LGBT issues;
- Create and leverage existing partnerships and programs;
- Collaborate with multilateral partners; and
- Engage directly with host country governments.
Public Outreach and Awareness:
WHA engages the public on promoting the human rights of LGBT individuals by:
- Working with media outlets and
- Facilitating LGBT roundtables and web chats with civil society, academia, representatives from U.S. embassies, partner countries, and multilateral organizations.
Creating and Leveraging Partnerships and Programs:
WHA partners with governments, civil society, and the private sector in the region by:
- Participating in regular consultations with the diplomatic community in Washington, D.C., about ways to improve respect for the human rights of LGBT persons in the region and
- Building multi-stakeholder partnerships to share best practices for the promotion of the human rights of LGBT persons.
WHA works with multilateral organizations by supporting:
- The Organization of American States in the promotion of the human rights of LGBT persons;
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Unit on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons and the proposal to create a Special Rapporteurship for the Protection of Human Rights of LGBTI Persons; and
- Collaborative efforts with countries in the region to promote the human rights of LGBT persons before the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council.
Engagement with Host Country Governments:
- Engaging in high-level discussions with officials from host country governments in the region regarding human rights of LGBT persons and
- Creating spaces for dialogue with a diverse group of stakeholders.
For more information, please visit our website at http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/social.
The Questions from Melanie Nathan and Cathy Kristofferson, from OBLOGDEE:
OBLOGDEE is an activist and advocate BLOG, not a mere information provider. A great deal of advocacy work goes on behind the scenes.
While we thank to Secretary of State John Kerry, we at OBLOGDEE have some questions we intend to explore with the Department of State and ask others to feel free to weigh in:
1. Which Countries does the WHA cover with regard to this statement?
2. Looks like a lot of talking suggested- hopefully there will be action or support for action to match it- will there be funding to help organizations and religious leaders provide education and take action on the ground?
3. Is there a similar program in place for non- Western countries – such as African countries which are not in the Western Hemisphere? Why is only the Western Hemisphere mentioned here? Are there other programs in place?
4. How does the WHA prepare to handle the negative impact and backlash problems that occur as a result of the perception that homosexuality is a “Western value/ import/ etc “?
5. What work is being done to curb our own haters who run off to foreign vulnerable countries preaching hate against LGBTI people in the name of Christianity?
6. Are any re-education or counter programs being fostered for those abroad who have succumbed to the export of hate from the U.S.A.
7. What plans are being made to help mitigate the hardships for LGBTI refugees and what about asylum seekers from around the world – the current protocols barely help the myriads seeking to escape persecution.
8. Sec. Clinton ‘engaged’ everyone with no such press release with it. So we wonder if Sec. Kerry is aiming at South America, Caribbean, Tennessee or Kansas maybe?
Note: U.S. Department of State Engagement on the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People
BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR Washington, DC December 6, 2011 http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/fs/2011/178355.htm
By Melanie Nathan and Cathy Kristofferson