Cicilline Introduces Bill to Protect Basic Human Rights of International LGBT Community

Jun 19, 2014 Issues: LGBT Issues

WASHINGTON, DC – As the nation celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and one of eight openly LGBT members of Congress, today introduced legislation to protect the basic human rights of the international LGBT community.

Specifically, the Global Respect Act would require the State Department to ban foreigners who have committed or incited gross violations of basic human rights against LGBT individuals from entering the United States. It also directs the State Department to report on these violations and related issues in its annual Human Rights Report.

“The United States and the international community have a responsibility to condemn horrific acts of discrimination and targeted violence against all individuals, including egregious offenses based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Cicilline. “The Global Respect Act will protect the rights of the LGBT community across the globe and uphold America’s commitment to defending basic human rights in all corners of the world.”

"Hate is not an American value, and those who are involved in passing vicious anti-LGBT laws or inflicting harm on LGBT people should not be welcome in our country," said David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign’s Government Affairs Director.  "This bill sends a clear message to those who have championed these serious human rights violations that the United States government and the American people fundamentally reject them."

“It’s important to codify our government’s commitment to human rights for LGBT individuals globally, as both a reflection of our commitment to the rights of targeted minority communities everywhere, and as a pragmatic realization that foreign governments that respect the rights of LGBT citizens make better diplomatic, economic and security partners for the United States.  By applying targeted visa sanctions to those who choose to persecute LGBT citizens, and silence the human rights organizations that would defend their rights, the bill sends a strong message to the world, particularly during Pride month.  It also makes clear that those who seek to advance their political careers, or enrich their pockets, with anti-LGBT hate speech are not welcome on our shores to benefit from the riches of our country and our economy,” said Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality.     

“Our nation has a proud history of protecting the rights and freedoms of the oppressed. In a time when many nations around the world are committing egregious human rights violations against LGBT people, we welcome Representative Cicilline’s leadership to ensure that the United States continues to promote safety, freedom, and equality of all people,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino.

More than 80 countries have laws that explicitly outlaw same-sex relations with penalties threatening imprisonment, fines, or, in several instances, even death. Recently, disturbing efforts to target LGBT individuals and their families have passed and been signed into law – most notably in Uganda and Nigeria. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s supporters are considering legislation which would forcibly remove children from their families if their parents are suspected of being lesbian or gay. And, in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, LGBT people can even be put to death. 

Original cosponsors of Cicilline’s legislation include Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

The bill is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, Human Rights First, PFLAG National, American Jewish World Service, and Global Rights.