Metro Weekly

Congressional Democrats introduce bill to combat anti-LGBTI abuses abroad

GLOBE Act would create a special envoy on LGBTI rights and call for sanctions on those who commit human rights abuses

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. – Photo: Facebook.

Congressional Democrats have introduced a bill that will establish an envoy within the State Department who will be tasked with tracking and responding to human rights abuses committed against members of the LGBTI community across the globe.

The bill, known as the Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality (GLOBE) Act, seeks to enable the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Peoples to speak on behalf of the U.S. government in condemning efforts by foreign nations to criminalize, discriminate against, or carry out state-sponsored violence against LGBTI communities.

The GLOBE Act puts in place sanctions on individuals who are deemed responsible for human rights abuses carried out against LGBTI people.

Foreign nationals found to be responsible for such crimes can have their visas revoked and be deported from the United States, and will be declared ineligible to immigrate or become citizens.

The GLOBE Act also creates a “Global Equality Fund,” which would be allowed to accept contributions or donations from major corporations, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and other entities dedicated to promoting LGBTI equality and funnel that money to groups or organizations that are fighting against anti-LGBTI human rights abuses.

Additionally, the bill would ensure that LGBTI individuals who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in their home nations are able to petition for asylum.

“LGBTI individuals continue to face violence, hatred, and discrimination around the globe,” U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “We in Congress will not stand idly by as the Administration fails to acknowledge and respond to the plight of vulnerable populations, including LGBTI people.

“The GLOBE Act builds on the accomplishments of the Obama Administration and the work of various members, groups, and coalitions to establish a broad set of directives to reinstate our leadership in advancing equality,” Titus added.

The bill drops just days after the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a 1948 resolution that affirms certain individual human rights.

The resolution has widely been credited with setting forth principles that have subsequently been adopted by various nations and incorporated into various international treaties, agreements, and even national constitutions.

“No one should face murder, torture, detention, or discrimination because of who they are and whom they love, but sadly it happens far too often around the world,” U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking member and soon-to-be Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement announcing his cosponsorship of the bill. “This bill sends a clear message that we all must protect the freedom and dignity of all human beings and to stand up against hatred and prejudice.”

Other cosponsors of the act include U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). 

Mark Bromley, the chair of the Council for Global Equality, called the bill a “fitting tribute” to International Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Bromley said the bill “affirms that countries that persecute their LGBTI citizens share neither our values nor the commitment to democratic principles that is in our country’s strategic interests.”

More than a dozen domestic and international LGBTQI groups have also announced their support for the bill, including but not limited to Amnesty International USA, OutRight International, Human Rights Watch, and the Human Rights Campaign.

“While Donald Trump and Mike Pence remain recklessly silent on anti-LGBTQ atrocities around the globe, it’s crucial that the United States Congress fill the void and make clear LGBTQ rights are human rights,” David Stacy, HRC’s government affairs director, said in a statement. “Congress must send a powerful message that the United States will continue to be a global leader in advancing the human rights of all people — including LGBTQ people.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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