Last edited: February 14, 2005

House Decree Targets GLBT Rights Abuses / Network, November 20, 2003

By Eric Johnston

SUMMARY: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan resolution that condemns international human rights violations committed against GLBT people.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan resolution on Thursday that condemns international human rights violations committed against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, a move applauded by supporters of the bill for its important symbolic value.

"In at least 80 countries, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are singled out under enforceable laws that often result in inhumane punishment, including imprisonment, torture and even execution," said Winnie Stachelberg, political director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest GLBT political organization.

"No human being, regardless of their gender identity, gender expression or their sexual orientation, should be subject to such cruel treatment. This resolution would condemn these vicious forms of discrimination and violence," said Stachelberg.

GLBT people can face possible execution for adult, consensual same-sex relations, according to the HRC. The organization also points to Zambia and Zimbabwe as examples of nations where GLBT individuals are threatened or brutally assaulted for their advocacy of civil rights.

This resolution, introduced by Reps. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., and Christopher Shays, R-Conn., condemns all violations of international recognized human rights norms based on the real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual.

It's not the first time the bill has been introduced. According to the HRC, the same bill was introduced in the House before, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

The HRC and other human rights organizations are still looking for co-sponsors in the House, and then plan to work toward getting the bill introduced in the Senate. It's unclear when lawmakers might actually get to vote on the measure.

The bill is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed by the United Nations in 1948. It guarantees every human with the fundamental right to life, liberty and security of person, and that every human should be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

"It has often been said that with great power comes great responsibility. As one of the most fortunate and powerful countries on the planet, the United States has a tremendous responsibility to speak out and protect those who may not be able to protect themselves," said Christopher Labonte, the HRC's deputy director for legislation. "We urge all members of the House to co-sponsor and adopt this important resolution."

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