A new group is calling on the U.S. State Department to take a more proactive stance against gay rights abuses abroad. The group, named the LGBT Foreign Policy Project, issued this announcement on March 11, the day the State Department released its annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices, to focus on the global trend in LGBT violence and discrimination.
Included in the thousands of pages of documentation in the State Department’s report are specific incidents of violence, repression and discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people carried out by governments and private citizens in more than 100 countries. The report’s initial publication was in 1975; implemented in 1993, it took the State Department almost two decades to include LGBT rights violations with other human rights abuses.
Countries cited in the report include high-profile offenders such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, where same-sex relations are punishable by death, and Jamaica, where homophobia among certain reggae artists has fueled anti-gay violence. Also listed are isolated incidents against gays and lesbians in Western Europe and other areas known for being more tolerant toward their gay and lesbian communities. Critics have charged that the State Department’s report includes extensive information about human rights abuses in other countries while it says little about American violations.
Leaders of the LGBT Foreign Policy Project include Michael Guest, the former U.S. Ambassador to Romania who resigned last year to protest State Department policies toward benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service Officers, and James Hormel, the former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg who was also the first openly gay man to serve as a U.S. Ambassador.
The group defines an LGBT Foreign Policy as demanding “…that those who represent our country—including Congress, the White House, U.S. embassies and U.S. corporations around the world—use the diplomatic, political and economic leverage available to them to oppose human rights abuses that are regularly directed against individuals because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”