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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (stock photo) SOURCE publishes press release from elected leaders as a community service.


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WASHINGTON DC _ Ahead of the second international Summit for Democracy co-hosted by the United States, and as LGBTQI+ people experience growing assaults on their safety and freedom both domestically and internationally, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today, March 28, reintroduced the International Human Rights Defense Act alongside Representative Robert Garcia (CA-42) to affirm the U.S.’s role in protecting and promoting LGBTQI+ rights.

The legislation would make permanent the office of the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, which President Biden established early in his term, as well as ensure that future administrations continue to uphold LGBTQI+ rights on the world stage by directing the State Department to document and respond to bias-motivated violence against LGBTQI+ people abroad and implement a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to criminalization, discrimination, and violence against LGBTQI+ people.

A reported 69 countries have enacted laws that criminalize homosexuality, underscoring the need for U.S. leadership to address growing threats faced by LGBTQI+ communities. In the United States, states legislators have introduced over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that make it easier to discriminate and interfere with access to health care, educational opportunities, and more.

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“LGBTQI+ rights are human rights, and human rights are the foundation of a strong and healthy democracy. If the United States is to effectively bring world leaders together around a shared, global commitment to upholding LGBTQI+ rights at this year’s Summit for Democracy, we must also reaffirm our own resolve to ensuring that all people—regardless of gender or sexual orientation—are protected at home,” said Senator Markey. “We have an urgent moral obligation to safeguard the freedom and fundamental rights of LGBTQI+ people, whether they live in our own neighborhoods or in communities around the world, and ensure the U.S. is unwavering in its commitment to upholding all rights of all people.”

“As the first gay immigrant in Congress, I know firsthand how important it is to uphold basic human rights for our LGBTQI+ community. As nations gather for the Summit for Democracy it is imperative that we make clear that a healthy democracy is one that respects and protects the rights of all its citizens regardless of their identity. I look forward to continuing to ensure that our country and our allies are upholding human rights for all.” said Representative Garcia. 

“The rise of anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric and violence isn’t just happening in the United States, it’s happening all around the world,” said Representative Jacobs, Vice Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus. “That’s why we need to make it clear that the United States doesn’t tolerate this hatred and discrimination. Our bicameral legislation takes a clear position declaring that we are in solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community in the United States and around the world and that we’ll continue to push for human rights, equality, and justice for all people – no matter who they are or who they love.”

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“Tragically, the rights of LGBTQI+ persons continue to be at grave risk around the world. We must respond with concrete support to ensure that the rights of all people are respected,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez. “The International Human Rights Defense Act will bolster the State Department’s ability to support LGBTQI+ persons globally and marks an important step forward in advancing equality for all.”

“As countries gather for the Democracy Summit, we must recommit to ensuring that every member of the LGBTQI+ community across the world is treated with the acceptance, dignity and respect they deserve,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our legislation makes clear the United States’ position on equality and protection of human rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and encourages other countries to promote the same equality across the globe.”

“The Summit for Democracy is important forum to meet with our democratic partners, discuss a range of global challenges, and promote democracy and human rights, including for LGBTQ+ individuals,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues to reaffirm our commitment to protecting LGBTQ+ rights around the world.”

Cosponsors in the Senate include Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). 

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The International Human Rights Defense Act is endorsed by the Council for Global Equality and the Human Rights Campaign.

“The data is clear: democracies are only as strong as their most vulnerable communities are protected,” said Beirne Roose-Snyder, Senior Policy Fellow at the Council for Global Equality. “Our research shows an unmistakable correlation between the lived experiences and legislative realities of LGBTQI+ people worldwide on the one hand and the health and resilience of democratic institutions on the other. When we invest in LGBTQI+ communities, we are defending democracy for all. This bill expands U.S. support for democracy overseas by providing the policies and infrastructure to strengthen LGBTQI+ leadership and defend human rights.”

“The State Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Peoples has been essential in advancing the work of protecting LGBTQI+ people all over the world,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director at the Human Rights Campaign. “At a time when LGBTQI+ people are facing violence, persecution and even outright bans on existence in some countries, the position of the Special Envoy is indispensable to combat these trends on the international stage. The International Human Rights Defense Act, which would ensure that LGBTQI+ rights are a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and make this position a permanent part of the State Department, would signal to the world that the U.S. has an ongoing commitment to working on these issues, even as administrations come and go. We thank Senator Markey and Representatives Garcia and Jacobs for introducing this very important piece of legislation.”

Read the Text of the bill here.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.