Last edited: February 14, 2005

U.S. Must Not Squander Opportunity for Global Promotion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights, says Amnesty International

Reps. Lantos and Shays to Introduce Bi-partisan House Resolution Thursday

Amnesty International USA, November 18, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Wende Gozan at (212) 633-4247
or Michael Heflin at (212) 633-4280

Washington—Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is calling for fast passage of a landmark House Concurrent Resolution condemning human rights abuses based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Reps. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) will reintroduce the resolution at a press conference this Thursday, November 20, at 9:30 a.m., 2200 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.

While recognizing the need to fully protect LGBT rights in this country, this resolution also notes the US government’s obligation to promote global LGBT human rights. The resolution calls on the State Department to continue to improve its documentation of human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat these abuses internationally.

“Some 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality,” said Michael Heflin, Director of Amnesty International USA’s OUTfront Program. “Punishments under these statutes in some cases include torture and even the death penalty. Discrimination and violence against LGBT people by authorities and civilians remains widespread throughout much of the world. States’ failure to hold perpetrators accountable creates a climate of impunity and violates international standards that require states to protect the human rights of all their citizens.”

Congressional supporters of the resolution cite a number of egregious examples of LGBT abuse and mistreatment, among them: the ongoing persecution and entrapment via the Internet of gay men in Egypt; the continuing murders of transgender persons in Honduras, often at the hands of the police; and the imprisonment of a young gay human rights defender in Uzbekistan.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity are fully embedded in the overall human rights norms defined in international conventions to which the US is party,” said Heflin. “Unfortunately, the US has failed to lead, at home and abroad, the advancement of LGBT human rights. Passing this resolution and implementing its recommendations will go a long way toward helping the US change this sad legacy.”

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