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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 27 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 26
International Human Rights Defense Act introduced in U.S. Senate Murray and Cantwell co-sponsor
Section One
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International Human Rights Defense Act introduced in U.S. Senate Murray and Cantwell co-sponsor

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill June 16 to create a special diplomatic envoy for LGBT rights.

Titled The International Human Rights Defense Act, the measure would direct the State Department to prioritize preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community, devise a global strategy to achieve those goals, and establish a special envoy responsible for coordinating that effort.

The measure currently has 20 Senate co-sponsors, including Washington's Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

The bill is also endorsed by a dozen human rights organizations, including the Council for Global Equality, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the American Jewish World Service.

The U.S. currently has a special envoy for women's issues, established by executive order in 2009.

'For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defending the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere,' Markey said in a statement.

'By fostering a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies, we can meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe.'

'As many nations sanction discrimination and hatred against LGBT people, the United States must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for equality throughout the world,' Murray said in a statement.

'I am pleased to support the International Human Rights Defense Act, which will foster a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies to meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe.'

HRC President Chad Griffin applauded Markey's proposal, saying, 'In many nations around the world, [LGBT people]... persistently face the threat of harassment, discrimination, and violence, and we must do everything we can to ensure their rights are fully included in and championed by America's foreign policy. Passing this legislation is an important step in that direction.'

The bill's future is uncertain, even if it should pass the Senate. The Republican-controlled House has been hostile to pro-LGBT legislation, and no House companion bill has been put forward. President Obama established the woman's special envoy by executive order, and he could do so again to set up the LGBT post.

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