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More than 80 countries urge for end to violence against LGBT people

March 23, 2011

The Task Force applauds yesterday’s introduction of a U.N. declaration calling for an end to violence and human rights violations against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The declaration was introduced on behalf of more than 80 countries, including the United States, at the U.N. Human Rights Council. The U.S.’s inclusion is a marked departure from the stance of the Bush administration.

The declaration states:

We call on states to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The White House issued the following statement yesterday:

President Obama believes that advancing the human rights of minorities and the marginalized is a fundamental American value. The President was pleased to announce during his trip to Brazil that he and President Rousseff agreed to promote respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals through the establishment of a special rapporteur on LGBT issues at the Organization of American States.  This special rapporteur will be the first of its kind in the international system.

Over the past months our diplomats have been engaged in frank, and at times difficult, conversations about the human rights of LGBT persons with governments from around world. This morning, at the United Nations Human Rights Council, some 85 countries joined the United States in reaffirming our joint commitment to end acts of violence and human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The President is proud of the work we have done to build international consensus on this critical issue and is committed to continuing our determined efforts to advance the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council, said:

We are proud to have taken a leading role on the statement issued today at the Human Rights Council, signed by 85 countries, entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love. The U.S. government is firmly committed to supporting the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to lead productive and dignified lives, free from fear and violence. We look forward to working with other Governments from all regions and with civil society to continue dialogue at the Council on these issues.

The Task Force has previously spoken out on this issue and Executive Director Rea Carey today said:

We applaud the introduction of the joint statement before the U.N. Human Rights Council. The targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for abuse and violence is a serious problem worldwide and should not be condoned or tolerated. We thank the Obama administration for ensuring the U.S. is a signatory on this important declaration, and thank all the countries that are taking a stand against this abuse.

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