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Home / Press Release / Senator Markey Introduces the International Human Rights Defense Act
June 13, 2014

Senator Markey Introduces the International Human Rights Defense Act

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomes the introduction of The International Human Rights Defense Act (S. 2472), a bill to direct the Department of State to establish a Special Envoy in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for foreign policy initiatives to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The bill was introduced today by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) along with 24 original cosponsors.

“We applaud Senator Markey’s leadership on this important bill to ensure that protecting the human rights of LGBT people remains a key element of America’s foreign policy vision,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “At a time when nations around the world such as Uganda, Russia, and Brunei are enacting laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT people, it is critical that the State Department support one of the most important human rights initiatives of the Obama Administration to promote safety and freedom from persecution for all, including those targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

"For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defending the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere. The International Human Rights Defense Act will foster a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies so we can meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe,” said Senator Markey.

The International Human Rights Defense Act calls for the Department of State to:

  • Continue to maintain preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community as a foreign policy priority;
  • Create the position of “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Peoples” in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which will be responsible for all inter-bureau and inter-agency coordination of the United States government’s efforts to defend human rights for the LGBT community internationally;
  • Coordinate efforts to promote international LGBT human rights with local advocacy groups, governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector; and
  • Continue to include a section on LGBT international human rights in the annual State Department Report on Human Rights.

For more information or to speak with Gaylord contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.