LGBT rights

  • Why the United States Must Treat LGBTI Rights as a Foreign Policy Imperative

    The imposition of US sanctions on the Chechen president responsible for the systematic purge of gay men demonstrates a willingness to take a stand on human rights issues essential for the preservation of US values and the maintenance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights as a foreign policy imperative.

    On December 20, the US Department of the Treasury finally took a strong stance and announced targeted sanctions against leader of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov and four other Russians for alleged “torture, extrajudicial killing, and other violations of international law” under the Magnitsky Act.

    In April, Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian media outlet,...

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  • From Huguenots to Gay Refugees: The Cost of Expulsion

    With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Louis XIV famously empowered national prejudice, initiating widespread persecution and driving the mass exodus of French protestants. Many of those within this highly skilled and industrious group fled to London, where they had no small part in the blossoming of English economic life which would soon see the birth of industrialization and the forging of a global empire. Arrivals to Holland, Prussia, and America had similar impacts in those places. France, the undisputed Western superpower of the seventeenth century, would fade in relative geopolitical prominence. A global defeat in 1763 at British hands which ended the Seven Year’s War cemented France’s legacy as the perennial second fiddle of modern global power. A petty act of illiberal tribalism for political expediency had a real impact on the rise and fall of nations.

    The story of the Huguenots is not an isolated one. The expulsion of Jews from Europe, South Asians...

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  • The United States Cannot Afford to Scale Back its Efforts to Advance LGBTI Rights Around the World

    In recent years, the protection and advancement of the human rights of LGBTI people has become a hallmark of US foreign policy.

    In 2011, former President Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum that, among other things, directed government departments and agencies working overseas to “combat discrimination, homophobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTI status or conduct.” Since then, there has been an increase in the number of US diplomats participating in pride parades around the world, US embassies proudly hoisting the rainbow flag alongside the Stars and Stripes, and over $7.5 million dollars distributed to US partners and allies around the world to combat discriminatory legislation, protect human rights advocates, and increase our capacity to report on incidents of human rights violations.

    I, for one, am tremendously proud of everything the United States has done since LGBTI rights were formally recognized as a foreign policy priority. However,...

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  • The Need for American Leadership in the World

    For eight years, the United States led the world in the fight to advance LGBTI equality and ensure that all people could live free from the fear of discrimination, bigotry, and violence.

    More than any president before him, former President Barack Obama set the standard to inspire many around the world to follow.

    On Obama’s watch, the United States set forth a number of measures to promote and integrate LGBTI rights into US foreign policy. Such steps included: issuing a presidential memorandum directing all federal agencies to ensure our overseas efforts promote the rights of LGBTI individuals; appointing the first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons to lead and coordinate the US Department of State’s diplomatic efforts across the globe; naming a Senior LGBT Coordinator to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure that LGBTI rights were fully integrated into all aspects of USAID's overseas work; and expanding the Global...

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  • The American Brand is Wounded…But It Will Recover

    Every time I think the editorials, commentaries, tweets announcing the end of US global leadership have reached a crescendo, it seems that some new decision or announcement from the White House elevates concern again. I confess that I, too, have decried the abdication of a leading role for the United States on the world stage more than once in recent weeks. 

    From a strategic standpoint, there have been numerous policy errors in the first few months of the new administration of US President Donald J. Trump.  From a wavering stance on NATO, which does not acknowledge the full value of the Alliance, to a cozy relationship with strongmen and near silence on human rights, to the announcement on June 1 that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord, Trump’s actions have rattled allies and created uncertainty about the trajectory of US leadership.  Whether or not one agrees with these and other foreign policy decisions of the Trump...

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  • Trump Must Stand Up for LGBT+ Rights

    Over the course of the 2016 election, Donald Trump routinely flip-flopped on issues of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans* Americans. After first saying he would consider appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn nationwide marriage equality, he soon made it a recurring talking point to highlight how he would be “better for the gays” than his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. This was mainly to bolster his extreme anti-Muslim stance on immigration after a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando last June left forty-nine people dead. The shooter, who had indeed pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was in fact American-born.

    LGBT Americans have good reason to...

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  • Pride at State

    The Atlantic Council and the US Department of State, along with GLIFAA, hosted US Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, Special US Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, for the annual Pride at State event on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. The event took place from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m, in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State. Over 500 attendees were present. Following remarks by Regina Jun, President of GLIFAA, the Atlantic Council’s Secretary, Walter B. Slocombe, offered some remarks on the issue of LGBT rights, and spoke about the Council’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in foreign policy. Special U.S. Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, Randy Berry, introduced US Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning – the first openly gay US Secretary of the Army.

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