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LGBT issues at home and abroad take center stage today at Creating Change

January 28, 2012

Saturday’s plenary at the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change featured important news on the domestic front and a call to action on international LGBT human rights.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan addresses the Creating Change audience.

First up, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a new HUD policy to fight discrimination against LGBT people in federally supported housing programs. The new rules, to be published next week, will help LGBT people and their families across the country stay in their homes, get the loans they need to buy homes, and access life-saving federal assistance programs to help get low-income people and families back on their feet. You can read more about the new policy and Donovan’s full remarks here.

Update: You can watch video of Secretary Donovan’s remarks here:

Donovan is the first sitting Cabinet secretary in history to speak at the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, the country’s largest annual gathering of LGBT rights advocates.

The plenary ended with an extraordinary panel focusing on international issues. Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, moderated the discussion featuring LGBT organizers from around the world, including Nisha Ayub, programme manager of the Transgender Programme of the Pink Triangle Foundation of Malaysia; Joel Simpson, founder and co-chairperson of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana; and Val Kalende, a noted Ugandan LGBT activist and co-founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda.

Mira Patel, special advisor on LGBT and women’s rights at the U.S. State Department, joined the discussion to reiterate the Obama administration’s support of international LGBT human rights. This follows a Presidential Memorandum from President Obama and a historic speech from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supporting LGBT human rights earlier this year.

Each of the organizers told stories of discrimination in their home countries, including appallingly discriminatory laws against homosexuality and transgender people. Yet, all of the organizers expressed hope for positive change and are building political power within their countries to enact that change.

At the end of the panel, there was a call to take action to promote international LGBT human rights. You can join the action by visiting iglhrc.org/action to send letters to the U.S. ambassadors to Guyana, Malaysia and Uganda to promote and support LGBT human rights.

International panel with IGLHRC at Creating Change.

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