LGBT Provision Amended to Senate Foreign Relations Bill
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee accepted an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (S. 2971) [PDF] that will help the State Department address LGBT human rights concerns abroad. The amendment, offered by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), for himself and for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), passed on a 12-7 roll call vote, with all Democrats and Republican Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) voting in its favor. HRC supported this amendment and urged Committee members to vote in its favor.
Senator Feingold remarked:
"Passage of this amendment will help counter efforts around the world to restrict the rights of people just because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda is just the latest example of why we need to strengthen the State Department’s ability to monitor and address these serious human rights abuses around the world."
The amendment instructs the State Department to create one or more positions within the Human Rights Bureau to specifically monitor international LGBT concerns, including tracking of LGBT violence and criminalization of homosexuality. In addition, it requires the State Department to work through United States diplomatic and consular missions to encourage countries to reform or repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality or consensual homosexual conduct or that otherwise restrict fundamental freedoms for LGBT individuals. Furthermore, it mandates that LGBT issues be included in the Secretary of State’s annual report on human rights practices and that LGBT issues be included in the human rights training courses provided to Foreign Service Officers.
The amendment is virtually identical to language included in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act approved by the House last year (H.R. 2410, Section 333).