Foreign Affairs Committee Passes Cicilline’s Global Respect Act

Jun 20, 2019

WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline’s (RI-01), Global Respect Act to impose sanctions on foreign individuals who are found responsible for human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals abroad.


“Every human being deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, millions of LGBTI people around the world are targeted with violence, harassment, discrimination, and worse every single day,” said Cicilline, a co-chair of the House Equality Caucus. “The United States needs to stand as an advocate for oppressed and marginalized communities across the world. That’s why I’m pleased this bill is moving to the House floor and bringing us one step closer to imposing real penalties on anyone who abuses the human rights of LGBTI people.”


If it’s passed into law, the Global Respect Act will:


  • Require the Executive Branch to biannually send Congress a list of foreign persons responsible for, or complicit in cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of an individual; prolonged detention of an individual without charges or trials; causing the disappearance of an individual by abduction and clandestine detention of an individual; other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of an individual based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics;


  • Deny or revoke visas to individuals placed on the list, with waivers for national security or to allow attendance at the United Nations;


  • Require the annual State Department Report on Human Rights to include a section on LGBTI international human rights, as well as an annual report to Congress on the status of the law’s effectiveness; and


  • Require the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to designate a senior officer responsible for tracking violence, criminalization, and restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in foreign countries based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics.


A 2015 United Nations report that found thousands of incidents of physical violence are committed against LGBTI individuals each year. According to Amnesty International, about a dozen nations enforce homophobic laws with the death penalty. There are more than 80 countries that criminalize consensual same-sex relations, and in about a dozen countries, consensual same-sex relations are even punishable by death.


Cicilline first introduced the Global Respect Act in the 114th Congress. The legislation has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom House and Council for Global Equality.