While in general I am pleased that we are covering some serious issues, make sure manner and implementation is not imposing – Melanie Nathan of African Human Rights Coalition is urging caution on LGBTQI Global Rights – Melanie Nathan
The Washington Blade Notes: “Three U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require the U.S. to continue to promote LGBTQ rights abroad through its foreign policy.” The Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality (GLOBE) Act — introduced by U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) — would codify into law the position of special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad. While I am pleased at the sentiment and some of the important inclusions, I foresee old problems resurfacing as Colonialists and draconian gatekeeps lose sight of the mess they have already made! The more the West clamor disapproval, the more politicians in the criminalizing countries cry sovereignty and cultural tunes.
The Key provisions of the GLOBE Act include:
- Creating a permanent special envoy for LGBTQ human rights at the U.S. State Department;
- Establishing an interagency group within the U.S. government tasked with responding to attacks on LGBTQ people outside the U.S.;
- Authorizing sanctions against those who commit anti-LGBTQ human rights violations abroad and requiring that the U.S. State Department report on those violations in its annual human rights report;
- Codifying a non-discrimination policy in all U.S. foreign assistance programs to ensure inclusion of LGBTQ people in all U.S. funded programs; and
- Permanently establishing LGBTQ identities as a “social group” for the purposes of claiming asylum in the U.S.
“We must recommit the United States to the defense of human rights globally. We must reorient our human rights foreign policy to be in line with U.S. values,” Markey said in a press release. “With the GLOBE Act, we reaffirm the United States’ lead role as protectors and defenders of LGBTI rights, because LGBTI rights are human rights. American values call us to be allies, to stand up and protect LGBTI individuals, in spite of the Trump administration’s attempts to narrow the government’s human rights focus and exclude this community.
While it is important to continue to press forward for LGBTQI global rights and to stand firm against criminalization of sexuality and the violence it seems to license, the West must be conscious and find a balance when navigating issues of sovereignty, cultural considerations and the impact their pronouncements can have that actual serve backlash and to hurt LGBTQI communities abroad.
This is a complex issue and cannot simply be made right by U.S. legislation. The ultimate diplomacy, navigation and innovation, using direction of local activists on the ground must form part of the process. We must stand up for human rights globally, but not in the shoes of the Colonialists, who caused much harm in the first place, but rather as co-creators encouraging those in their own countries to re-establish origins and accurate cultural claims before the Colonialists intervened and forced their Penal Codes and religious dicta, all now seen as harmful.
While this may be vital legislation especially in a Trump era, where so much of what has been accomplished has been trod on and dismantled. Unfortunately even among LGBTQI Western organizations gate-keeping and partnerships and incorrect steering of funding, to include the Council for Global Equality and allied organizations have often have caused more harm than good, buying into the notion that interference and threats from the West will fix the problems.
Already The Washington Blade makes this big mistake in is opening line which I purposely used above in mine: “Three U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require the U.S. to continue to promote LGBTQ rights abroad through its foreign policy.” One of the greatest aspects that triggers harsher anti-Homosexuality legislation and more onerous punitive measures in countries such as Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, is the very idea that America would have the audacity to PROMOTE LGBTQI RIGHTS!!! Such promotion is seen as a curse, anti-religion, satanic and an imposition on sovereignty and culture – all designed to Americanize those sovereign countries and rob them of their culture. This lends itself to a much greater discussion which I am willing to have. However in meantime I urge the “know-All” American to do better than merely talk to local white American old school gatekeepers. I urge the Press, GLAAD, HRC to find the right people to have these discussion with before slamming your approval unconditionally or before truly examining how we can do things not as Masters, but as allies. And in doing so – ditch the usual suspects and find the academics, researchers, activists and innovators who are not just in for self-hand greasing that has occurred over the past years!
HRC notes: “While the Trump-Pence White House refuses to speak out against anti-LGBTQ attacks worldwide, it is essential that the U.S. Congress defend the human rights and protections of all people — including LGBTQ people,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said. “With the introduction of this legislation, Congress sends an important message that U.S. leaders remain committed to advancing human rights around the globe. We thank Sen. Markey for his leadership and advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ people worldwide.”
This comes with added danger for backlash against actual LGBTQI communities. This fine line between Colonial interference and actual protection of human rights is so often breached and this may be a set up for further harm.
However Markey correctly notes that the State Department’s controversial Commission on Unalienable Rights “excludes LGBTQI persons.” Markey also criticized the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
I wonder if this is being used as a political anti-Trump admin tool rather than for its authentic value, in respect of which I believe it has none, unless the partnerships include African or Global led constituents. I do not believe one excludes the other. It will all boil down to implementation and the use of proper partnerships. Many such perceived players are out of the loop, gate keep and are unable to keep up with the actual fast pace issues that present each day. Without players on the ground, the same gate keepers will do no more than manifest their draconian Colonialism under the pretense of innovation.
So while at African HERC we applaud this on many of the levels as presented, we are optimistically cautious and look forward to seeing whether its trajectory can balance authenticity and true cultural journeys rather our own imposed sense of how things must be done because the master said so!
What we also need to note in this context, is the desperate need for new paths to safety for LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugee who are exiled as a result of persecution for being LGBTQI under criminalizing laws and their impact. Very little change is being proposed. Perhaps this new legislation will elevate the awareness and the field will start exploring viable solutions.
I will get more into the specifics in an updated posting.
DONATE to African Human Rights Coalition to help refugees and asylum seekers at : www.africanHRC.org/donate
Mediation: Private Courts
Follow me on Twitter – @MelanieNathan1
Poetry From Hell Part 4: Kakuma Pain Zombies and Craving HERE