U.S. Department of State Announces Change Regarding Gender on Passports
U.S. Department of State announced that beginning on June 10 transgender individuals will only need to present certification from an attending physician that the applicant has "undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” in order to declare a new gender on the passport. Under the previous rules, the individual applying for the passport change was required to have completed sexual reassignment surgeries The new rules also allow for an individual to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition.
Read the full State Department Press Release.
The Council for Global Equality Submits Report to the UN's Universal Periodic Review
At the end of April, the Council for Global Equality and its 19 organizational members submitted a report to the United Nations
on the human rights record of the United States, focusing on a variety of LGBT issues here at home. This submission is a rare example of international and domestic advocacy coming together to invigorate one another. The report was submitted for "Universal Periodic Review" (UPR), a relatively new mechanism of the UN's Human Rights Council by which every nation has its own human rights record reviewed by other states in a peer review process. This process is one of the key "naming and shaming" tools that the UN uses to address human rights issues around the world, and it is a mechanism that LGBT groups have increasingly relied on to draw international attention to our struggles for equality.
As a part of the Universal Periodic Review process, the State Department and other federal officials have traveled the country convening "listening sessions" to help shape the U.S. report to the United Nations. In April, they heard from groups in San Francisco, including a panel of individuals convened by the Council for Global Equality who testified to the impact of abuses committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity here in the United States. Those powerful and heartbreaking personal stories can be heard here (UPR LGBT Panel ), and they remind us that these are not esoteric issues of international treaty law - these are real issues that impact real people every day in our country and in so many other countries around the world.
U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Condemning the "Anti-Homosexuality" Bill in Uganda
The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) condemning the “Anti-Homosexuality” bill in Uganda and calling for all countries to decriminalize consensual homosexual relations. See a copy of the resolution and the press statement from Sen. Feingold.
The bipartisan nature of the resolution, which bridges strong ideological divides in the Senate, reflects the extent to which US officials, from Congressional leaders to the President to the Secretary of State to our Ambassador in Uganda, have spoken with one voice to oppose the bill as a fundamental assault on basic human rights. It is also remarkable in its forward leaning posture, as it looks beyond this one odious bill in Uganda and calls on all countries to decriminalize consensual homosexual conduct and protect the fundamental human rights of LGBT individuals.
U.S. State Department Releases Human Rights Report to Congress
March 11, 2010 – The State Department today released a report to Congress that examines the human rights record of every country around the world. Once again, the report documents a growing crisis in human rights abuse directed against LGBT people worldwide.
For the first time ever, most of the country chapters have a dedicated section examining “societal abuses, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” In its cumulative impact, the report makes clear that LGBT rights are firmly rooted in basic human rights protections and that those protections are under severe attack in the world today.
Responding to the coverage of Uganda in the report, senior adviser and former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest applauded “President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s principled belief that the human rights of LGBT people cannot be separated from those of all of society.” Emphasizing that “many of the most egregious abuses have been committed in countries considered to be friends and allies of the United States,” he urged that the State Department develop strategies to counter intolerance and homophobia in every region, drawing on all the tools of American diplomacy.
See the Council’s full press release here.
See an edited compendium of all LGBT references in the report here.
Watch a short video of Secretary Clinton delivering remarks to the press about the Release of the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
Uganda Resolutions Mark Washtington Prayer Breakfast
At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on February 4, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton both condemned the “Anti-Homosexuality” bill that is currently being debated in parliament in Uganda. President Obama referred to it as an “unconscionable” and “odious” law. And Secretary of State Clinton, noting that the administration is “standing up for gays and lesbians,” emphasized that she recently called Uganda’s President to express her “strongest concerns” about the law being debated in parliament there. Several advocacy groups also came together to organize an “American Prayer Hour” in 17 cities to raise awareness around the Uganda bill and its connection to conservative religious figures in the United States.
Two resolutions condemning the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality bill were introduced in the House and the Senate during this same week. House Resolution 1064 was introduced with bipartisan support from more than three dozen members of Congress. A Senate resolution was introduced with bipartisan support from Senators Feingold (D-WI), Coburn (R-OK), Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME). We ask that you help mobilize additional support for these resolutions by calling your representatives and asking them to join as cosponsors.
Find out how to help kill the "Kill the Gays" bill
View short video of Obama and Clinton at the National Prayer Breakfast
Ugandan and American Human Rights Activists Testify Against proposed Uganda "Anti-Homosexuality Bill"
On January 21, 2010 Ugandan and American human rights activists came together to testify against the proposed Uganda “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” at a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress. The hearing is the latest in a series of actions by the U.S. government to signal its disapproval of the measure under consideration in the Ugandan parliament. Over 90 members of Congress also signed a letter to Ugandan President Museveni condemning the proposed legislation and another letter to President Obama supporting current U.S. efforts in bilateral relations against the bill and requesting continued pressure from the U.S. government.
View a short clip of Tammy Baldwin's opening remarks.
Read the Press Release and Letter to Pres. Museveni issued by Senators Durbin and Cardin.
Public Protests Worldwide on Uganda Anti-Gay Measure
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The Council for Global Equality Welcomes Important Legislative Victory
The Council for Global Equality welcomes the important legislative victory this week that expands our country’s federal hate crime statute to allow Justice Department support in prosecuting crimes directed at individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or disability. The bill – long associated with the brutal killing eleven years ago this month of Matthew Shepard – is a milestone on our march toward full equality and a fitting memorial to Matthew and to the many other Americans who have been killed simply for being themselves. It also sends a message on the global stage. Earlier this month, at a human rights conference in Poland, the United States spoke of the need to address violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Eastern Europe and beyond. This new law will provide a powerful example of our country’s own commitment to fighting hate crimes, and it lends additional credibility when the United States speaks out against violence directed at LGBT communities beyond our borders. The Council for Global Equality looks forward to working with the State Department to give international voice to our new domestic resolve.
Inaugural Global Equality Leadership Award Honors Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D‐WI)
Washington, DC – October 21, 2009–The Council for Global Equality joined Fair Wisconsin and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights in awarding Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin the first‐ever Global Equality Leadership Award. The Council’s first award is being presented jointly by all three organizations on October 20, 20009 in recognition of the Congresswoman’s work to promote human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities at the local, national and international levels.
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The Council for Global Equality joins human rights leaders in condemning Ugandan "Anti-Homosexuality" bill
The Council for Global Equality joins human rights leaders in condemning the “Anti-Homosexuality” bill that was introduced in the Ugandan parliament in October 2009. The bill is undoubtedly one of the most homophobic pieces of legislation ever conceived. It would increase the penalty for consensual homosexual conduct from 14 years to life in prison. It would also limit the distribution of HIV information through a provision criminalizing the “promotion of homosexuality.” Beyond that, it creates a crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” punishing anyone who is HIV-positive with death for having consensual same-sex relations, even if the relations are informed and safe and regardless of whether the person is even aware of his or her HIV status. That provision alone is contrary to every scientifically-sound public health recommendation for reaching vulnerable HIV-positive communities with the prevention, care and treatment they so desperately deserve. The law also exposes anyone in Uganda, including HIV outreach experts, to a criminal sentence for not reporting to the government within 24-hours on anyone who engages in homosexual activity.
The Council has been in contact with senior officials in the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Kampala and the National Security Council to express concern over the legislation and its potential to undermine our substantial U.S. investment in the country’s HIV/AIDS response. The U.S. Embassy in Uganda has condemned the proposal in clear and forceful terms.
A press release from a coalition of domestic and international human rights groups is available here . A copy of the legislation, as tabled in parliament, is available here . In addition, a letter from the U.S. Congress to Secretary of State Clinton expressing grave concern at the human rights implications of the bill and its impact on our global health investment in Uganda is available here , along with the State Department's response .