tv Hearing on LGBTQI Human Rights CSPAN March 24, 2022 6:00am-7:00am EDT
this is just under an hour. i will keep my remarks brief to allow as much time as possible for everyone to have the opportunity to ask questions. i want to extend my appreciations for taking the time to provide this briefing. as you might know i'm the proud sister of a gender nonconforming siblings of the issues facing the lgbtqi+ community have been close to my heart. on february 4th, 2021, the biden administration announced to advance the human rights of lgbtqi+ prisons around the world building the obama administration memo that directed the departments and agencies engaged abroad to ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lgbtqi+ persons everywhere. a little over one year later, we've seen the administration make progress to these commitments including updates to deficiencies within the department of state human rights
reporting, the appointment of special envoy stearns and a policy that denied american citizenship to the children of same-sex couples born abroad and more. these achievements have come at a moment in history where we are seeing the human rights of lgbtqi+ persons and even children and their families being aggressively targeted and diminished simply for being who they are, not only abroad but also right here in many states across america. i want to briefly address the rights and safety of lgbtqi+ individuals particularly trans individuals are under threat right now. they are often targets of violence, which is especially the case in the war zone with an invading force that is particularly intolerant towards the lgbtqi+ community. we are also hearing how difficult it has been for the trans individuals to leave ukraine for fear of safety and harassment. so i: the united states to work with ukraine and neighboring countries to do everything we can to ensure safe passage right
now. the work is far from over, and we still have much further to go in protecting the human rights of lgbtqi+ persons and securing those rights for generations to come. i look forward to hearing special envoy stearns update on progress on the issues and having lead the way. first i will turn to the representative says cellini, the cochair of lgbtqi+ equality caucus and the sponsor of the landmark inequality act and equd bipartisan act. mr. cellini. >> thank you. and i want to chair the ranking member for holding this really important briefing, and i want to particularly acknowledge the extraordinary leadership of the chair and the committee in taking on lgbtqi+ rights around the world. this is just one more example of that. this is a time of both triumph and strife for the lgbtqi+ community here at home and abroad. on the one hand after years of struggle i'm encouraged by
progress. angola finally legalized relationships last year and botswana from 2019 to the work of tireless ngos. at the same time we've seen so many moving backwards like hungary where next month they will have a new law that would ban any discussion of lgbtqi+ people in schools. familiar to what the parents, students and teachers are facing. protecting against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity and found that covid has led to an increase in violence to lgbtqi+ couples and the community has had less active healthcare that we have used the scapegoats to condemn it. in the crisis we have seen a surge of violence against the lgbtqi+ community around the world and here in the united
states. for all these reasons, the special envoy to advance the lgbtqi+ persons have a big job ahead and i'm thrilled president biden has appointed the special envoy stearns to this role at usaid. as the former director, she has deep relationships with the groups working in many of the countries struggling with lgbtqi+ violence and discrimination. she also had extensive experience in the difficult and complex issues and is extremely qualified for the work ahead with a deep commitment to human rights and equality so i welcome you today and look forward to a productive discussion and with that i will yield back. >> i will turn to the representative the sponsor of the globe act and longtime champion of the effort to secure the human rights of lgbtqi+ persons at home and abroad. >> thank you very much. thank you for holding this
discussion that is so timely and critical and to mr. cellini for the work he has done pushing forth legislation so it's not just a case of do as i say not as i do. special envoy stearns, what a pleasure to have you year and see the priorities you set and the accomplishments that you've made in the short time that you've been in the current administration in this role. we you know we've got to continue to discuss and develop policies that fit the lgbtqi+ community all around the world. these individual rights are being consistently denied. the call for the fundamental human rights to be honored and protected isn't new. it's been a central element for much of the last century but now
it's time to extend the rights and agenda to cover the lgbtqi+ community. we saw great strides in the obama administration that created a framework and whole of government approach to protecting these individuals. i commend the special envoy stern for taking on this role at this critical time because we know we were derelict as a country under the previous administration so there's a lot of work to be done to undo what they did as well as move the agenda forward. unfortunately, during times of instability as we saw this past summer in afghanistan and we are currently seeing in ukraine, the lgbtqi+ community faces heightened risk more so than other people that are refugees were fighting in battlefields.
>> thank you now i will turn over for opening remarks they give very much representative. thank you for inviting me to to. i was honored to join the state department five minutes ago and there has been much to do. one —- five months ago with the forthcoming human rights report that office also led the drafting and coordination of what would be the first ever annual report on : government effort to promote
lgbtq persons to treat liberal has launched another then we are breaking new grounds. 's a document so consider sylvia for example. so in 2021 as the antidiscrimination to include protection on the basis of sex characteristics. in vietnam which is considered the gender identity recognition. although the lgbtq i-letter. they can save lives. to visit these reports have a sense of urgency. global data makes clear that the dehumanization of lgbtq i
was person is systemic and pervasive. in senegal days after a large rally it may at least four that we know of resulted. each attack the state actors targetism persons for violence and discrimination around the world. and in recent years i have witnessed the rise of new forms of attack on lgbtqi+ persons we see the increase criminalization the exercise
the methodology that used to animate the memorandum. first, quite simply the north start of my work is to counter discrimination and violence. the abysses of discrimination and violence facilitates ambitious long-term priorities attending conversion therapy or forced into exams. second, my office with the person to know when and how to push for progress and inform you in public us engagement can more than help critical information that is always needed we provide technical expertise across the state department to cellular identify opportunities. forthcoming we advocate for
data disaggregation because lgbtqi+ persons are not monolithic. can take additional discrimination of healthcare education and jobs but also it can occur based on factors related to age race ethnicity origin disability religion gender or immigration status. not only encountering hate us government can make a transformative difference client investing in where the winds of change are blowing in the right direction decriminalized homosexuality we must celebrate forward more momentum in botswana every country in the world those
that were complete to assure those lives of lgbt - - lgbtqi+ persons united states has been used to create an outside global impact the us government has a significant diplomatic structure around the world which is the premier multilateral funding mechanism for lgbtq - - passing total grants awarded across 100 countries. and public support for human rights as lgbtqi+ persons helps to perpetrators unnoticed and rally like-minded partners. famously the opportunity we had today to our fully embody the american dream take a
transformative leap forward for all persons regardless of who they are or who they love thank you for this opportunity and i look forward to our conversation big noel recognize members were questions we only have 90 minutes i will ask everyone to be mindful for thoughtful inclusive conversation and allow as many to participate in the conversation. it's been a year from when the president biden addressed
lgbtqi+ persons last january. can you explain the new directive? >> i would be happy to add thank you so much for that question. i would emphasize there has been a lot of success using the presidential memorandum as the framework and i'm proud that so many of the interventions executed have happened because each helps to advance the goal of ending violence and discrimination. rather than focus on windows highlight several i would rather direct you to the forthcoming first-ever public report implementation on the memorandum which details across all foreign assistance agencies that compendium of interventions and part of what was so exciting to me as we worked on that report is that
assistance agency had something to report and something of substance. i think that will be a tremendous tool to see the efforts the biden administration is making and the complexity of this work and you hold us accountable to keep the pressure on so we are driving this agenda forward. i went to highlight the fact the us will soon make passports available which is an enormous achievement moving forward in a way that will really change people's lives. else want to emphasize forthcoming human rights report it's a very short way to answer your question. but there are so many examples that have been remarkable and we are just getting started. >> thank you for all of your work on that.
during at the summit for democracy last year you announce the state department supported lgbtqi+ persons empowerment fund which aims to facilitate the committee members of democratic institutions went to the anticipate the launch of the fund and how does this me our commitments from members around the world? >> that's an important question. we expect to award the grant by the and of the fiscal year by the end of september. i want to emphasize why the glide fund is so important it seeks to support human rights initiative that are challenging democratic institutions from a specific lens but the premise is that lgbtqi+ persons are often a
canary in the call mine and where we see an attack on lgbtqi+ persons we see the erosion of law and democratic institutions and the kinds of projects that glide could support is not only for their personal safety but for all people because they can help build stronger democratic institutions to include for instance responding to the increase of hate speech during political campaigns and fostering dialogue with political parties to integrate inclusive policies into the platforms and ensuring voting rights for all persons regardless of sex assigned at birth and even fundamental concepts for diversity in government i am really pleased this mechanism exist and i cannot wait for it to rollout
so we can see the effects of the work have more inclusive policies for all. >> lastly what successes have you faced to oversee the implementation of the memorandum and your work in the department? >> i haven't figured out how to give up sleep. that's a big problem but i assume once i hit the six month mark i will have resolved that. the truth is one of the biggest challenges is that my office is incredibly high demand. we are contacted with request
because those in the state department realize they are living with high rates of discrimination and violence and want to do something about it and we wish you have all the resources in the world to respond to them to give them the technical assistance they are asking for. >> now i have altered it over to a moderator for member questions. >> . >> i just want to say really proud of the caucus as we are if you want to acknowledge a chair of the community and also for the heroic work in the state legislation and also thank you secretary for being here it's great to see you. last year i recognize the appropriations letter signed by 122 members of the house requesting $60 million of global funding to fund the
human rights agenda of the presidential memorandum issued one year ago and while we cannot secure a historic increase in the funds in the omnibus i'm hopeful we will this year but how important is us government funding to the movement of the quality and could it be deployed to promote economic opportunities globally quick. >> thank you so much presented for that question. is happy to get a question about the resourcing of human rates movements worldwide the human rights movement in the world nobody has enough resources but lgbtqi+ persons is one of the most underfunded categories of human rights and
development. i would go so far as to say there was a dangerous funding gap for those issues globally that i want to rattle off a couple of examples. let's think about covid. out of 4500 resource mechanisms only one explicitly funds those communities. globally there is approximately $560 million per year given in philanthropic funding so one could argue the number could be bigger —- bigger but it's not about place to start. but of that, approximately 300 million went to lgbtqi+ rights in the united states and by contrast is 260 million was given to all other countries in the world combined seven more stark
terms in north africa just $7 million were all of asia and pacific the region with the highest population the world are just $31 million so when we share these numbers to emphasize the question that one of the most important things that the us could do to advance safety and security of lgbtqi+ persons globally is to increase spending and i also have data that is helpful to you. >> i just need to get one more question. >> we can only find approximately 15 percent of the proposals that it receives so clearly we could do more with more resources. >> great. we will fight to be sure that happens. the united states is a founding act in the
like-minded governments that are coordinated with those communities and then the united kingdom will host a high-level meeting to measure progress and recognize these commitments to promote equality globally so will you participate it will the government have high level representation and even higher and since this is a conference what us commitment is the administration being considered to be made on the global stage? still thank you for your question about the equal rights coalition. having been a part of the erc from the start i know the mechanism well. we have not yet been formally invited to the conference but we will have representation there i will be at a small delegation for the conference and unfortunately i cannot yet
confirm what other representatives will attend. but i might push back a little bit of your characterization of the conference to say it is definitely for the host countries but not as much of the pledging conference for other participants but i can assure you we can use the conference as an opportunity to announce upcoming opportunities. >> thank you so much i yield back. >> thank you for being with us it's wonderful to hear from you. i'm sure you are aware of the restrictions lgbtqi+ people face in the middle east particularly under hamas rule and i'm wondering if you can talk about some of the things we can leverage the global
equity funds to advance rights and freedoms in the west bank and gaza. 's. >> thank you for that question and it's a pleasure to be here with you i would answer that question for any country context which is a layered approach sometimes that involves public to policy sometimes that will have glad you have that but the data that i shared because with just $7 million to support rights annually in that region you can imagine how much more impact there can be if there was more significant resources for human rights activists. there be more human rights
documentation, training of service providers and government officials and i would emphasize that after my career close to 25 years working with human rights activists not only in that region that one of the most effective strategies we can support is intersection now that he and i am surprised because in places where laws on the books we may not succeed in the near-term to see those laws and policies go away but we should be focused on how to drive down violence at the community level and there's a lot of opportunities to do that with civil society and the free press in the rule of law and other fundamentals of free and fair democracy. is a question a rather
passionate about but the answer is it's never a one-size-fits-all strategy. >> can you actually change cultural biases against lgbtqi+ people? >> one of the questions i'm always asked our lgbtqi+ rights anti- culture or tradition and the answer is no. they are a part of every traditional the planet i don't think us government can ever excuse me cannot think us government is going to be most effective driving culture change. i think that has to come from within and where they will be most helpful is where supporting people who really are fighting to be seen and heard. even for recognition by mainstream organizations and
to take many forms big and small even inviting lgbtqi+ activists to the briefings and consultations around the world. >> representative jacobs we are live again please begin your questions. >> . >> thank you as we work on is very important issues. under state department policy describe neither for or against the us embassies have been instructed to remain neutral on marriage equality campaigns and other countries even though they are engaged in active public discourse sending a letter that calls for the policies to allow them to speak up in favor of marriage equality that the human country recognizes and
it was signed by 60 members of congress and in response to my letter i was told the state department is conducting a review of this policy. can you tell us where that review stands now? one of the policy review be completed and made public? >> thank you for your question. and i really appreciate the pink behind you. and about that is an aesthetic decision but on this question we are giving at a fourth consideration and without a doubt we are guided by a policy priorities lgbtqi+ persons and organizations of individual countries. we support and have supported as appropriate and in consultation with local stakeholders efforts of the fundamental freedom of opinion and associations that allow for peaceful discussions like
same-sex marriage. beyond that i want to emphasize couples are valued and valuable we saw what they convey that again and again the stigma not only harms the couples and their children but all of society my hope is to have additional information to share with you by pride season this year. >> thank you for that i understand the department review follow the principle of do no harm. it is fine in principle but the overarching us policy should not be water down out of fear as you know. instead advocacy can take a metered approach with the expert understanding of the political situation of the country in which they are operating.
clearly a strong advocacy in countries where homosexuality is criminalized may be harmful to the human of human rights with individuals in general but in countries where movements were same-sex marriage is part of the discourse for example in chile where it passed both houses of congress diplomats can and should speak to how the us advances the issue. and to address one were subject with you lgbtqi+ department of state employees face challenges with that diplomatic accreditation too many countries around the world and during november hearing we asked the secretary of management and resources about state department actions to push for accreditation for the diplomats and their families and also sending a letter to secretary lincoln urging him and with the
highest levels in all the department of state interactions and can you speak of that advanced accreditation for the diplomats and their families? >> i can say it's an issue i'm concerned with that someone who has wife so i am very sympathetic to the importance of this for all of my colleagues and this is a significant priority for anyone who is an employee at the state department and regularly which is the lgbtqi+ police it on —- employee organization and his formidable. but one is to say this is not squarely within my portfolio because they don't work on human resource issues per se but i am concerned with that equitable nondiscriminatory
treatment and the second theme i would share with that anecdotal response that virtually every meeting that i have had with principles at the state department conveyed to me the importance of working on the issue of accreditation for same-sex families and i found that commitment to be quite genuine and the efforts thank you i feel one —- back. >> thank you so much and thank you for joining us i'm deeply concerned what seems like a global trend of rising discrimination against trans people we see this in the united states with the proliferation of anti- trans legislation and i have heard directly from my constituents in michigan about rising trend of hate crimes against trans
people. can you please comment on how hateful domestic legislation impacts her efforts to advance lgbtqi+ persons write the broderick in the biden administration do to reverse these trends? >> two years into the pandemic it takes forever to find the meat but. [laughter] thank you for the question. i share your concerns about the pervasive violence of gender nonconforming people face around the world. and encountering trends phobia is a priority for my office in many dimensions of the work but on the macro point how do human rights at the domestic level impact our form policy engagements? i will publicly misquote the president that the concept i have read in his speeches is
we're always striving for more perfect union and that work is never done. with us so one —- says and does that the moral authority at the international level. that said, even though we are still striving toward further realization and protection for lgbtqi+ americans we still want to do what we can to advance those rights of us foreign policy. it is both and spirit that leads to my next question. some of the worlds worst defenders on —- offenders are among the top recipients of us security systems. so egypt for example has one.$3 billion each year of us
security assistance that refused even to recognize the term sexual orientation or gender identity at all during the most recent universal periodic review for the un human rights council. effectively denying the existence of lgbtqi+ people according to human rights. do you believe us security assistance gives you leverage can you think of an example when the us has used as leverage to help advance rights? >> the us security assistance gives us leverage? yes. of course it does. every component of a bilateral relationship impacts our ability to negotiate. whether they are aligned are
different and the challenges how do you take into account all of the different dimensions of a bilateral relationship whether free and fair elections? would have to get back to about an example. >> please do that i would appreciate that that they can ask you one more question quickly. it's about title 42 and i'm deeply concerned of the biden administration's decision to continue the previous policy of using title 42 to justify turning away desperate asylum-seekers at our borders. we know that lgbtqi+ migrants
have disproportionate risk but yet we turn those people back and force them to remain in mexico. one study by human rights first found 81 percent of lgbtqi+ asylum-seekers near the border was a victim of an attack or an attempted attack of rape coming kidnapping, violent assault or human trafficking within just one month of when they were placed. but yet the policy remains in place. how does the biden administration 42 policy reconciling us efforts with that lgbtqi+ rights abroad you are leading so ably? >> thank you for that question. i am not well versed in this issues i will have to take a back as well. >> i appreciate you taking some homework. my time is expired. i appreciate you getting your answers. i yield back.
>> i want to ask you about accessing healthcare services that's what are the most daunting challenges that confronts lgbtqi+ persons community and of course it gets worse in times of crisis like afghanistan or ukraine. people are discriminated against, they can i get access to information their stuff from entering clinic so can you talk about some of the issues you have seen that this population faces not only physical caliphate care for mental health care and how we might be helpful spirit thank you for that question. i think we'll talk about we talk about lgbtqi+ persons access to health and if we did
we would have better data to report that the incredibly high rates of homicide of lgbtqi+ persons and longer life expectancies in so many issues that come up around us a big concern is the situation in ukraine how are people get access to hormones? what will happen when people need routine healthcare and i have to find a doctor that will not mark them? i don't have a stand-alone strand but it just has to be integrated into everything i do. >> if there is anything we can do maybe we would be sympathetic to that. don't forget mental health as well as physical health.
idea back. >> one word on that if i may, i'm so happy to emphasize mental health as well. the impact of covid-19 has been horrific on all persons everywhere but if you are lgbtqi+ persons who has been impacted by a job loss and had to go back and live with your family who is homophobic or trends phobic then your mental health has been shattered by the pandemic in a way that is simultaneously the way everybody else to struggling. and i read a story of a form on —- human rights organization that talks about lgbtqi+ persons and a younger
man that was forced to move in with his homophobic family as a result of job loss and he was experiencing so much harassment from his family that he would call the mental health line giving psychosocial support by phone so he literally had to go into his bedroom closet to call for help. literally and metaphorically people have had to go back into the closet so it's never been more important. >> you mentioned a high rate of homicide i would mention suicide is increasing authority higher than average. >> one thing that would be helpful is if we had better data collection and more research into lgbtqi+ violence. unfortunately i cannot answer that question at the global level when we look at lgbtqi+
suicidal ideation and suicide rates with country level or community data and to your point the severity of the issue really calls for more data collection and investment into this community. >> we look at that as a possibility for supporting i appreciate you being here. >> representative jacobs those are all members for the first round. >> i will do another round. >> i did request. >> i'm sorry we were told you did not be you are recognized. >> thank you. for your testimony today. three questions that are all part of the same coin and it
was spoken about credentialing of the diplomats what is the statistical the data points of real-time how many diplomats do we have right now that are being denied credentials? and how many have spaces on —- spouses. and how country x identifies the orientation of the diplomat tuesday they are not going to credential. and then going back to hear the state department and human resources and then to hire and retain in the state
department. how does the state department know if somebody is lgbtqi+? because we cannot ask that when we hire anybody. i'm generally on —- genuinely curious to know. >> is also helpful to know so i can pace my questions over the sign that we have. i don't know if the number exist to your first question how many diplomats do we have being denied credentials? and i don't know because not everyone chooses to disclose their sexual orientation or sexual characteristics and those that think disclosure will not lead to the results that they want, they may not choose to disclose.
>> do we know that there is at least one right now? we have at least one individual from our state department one death diplomat that is denied credentials or do we not even know that much? >> bringing up accreditation come i have an adjacent relationship to the issues of human resources but it's not squarely one of the issues that i work on so that i would have to get back to you make a mistake about data collection it is too serious of a question without being confident. i have seen considerable efforts to hire and retain lgbtqi+ employees.
people can choose to disclose that we will not mandate. having a diverse diversity it brings more credibility. it makes the state department stronger. and to what about those resources that we use for hiring and return retaining lgbtqi+ employees are fair and equitable access to benefits including those families and trends related healthcare and it comes in not-so-subtle but important statements made by state department leadership for example secretary of state sherman personally spoke at the state department pride event in june where we raise the progress flag and send a
strong message when the leadership of the department allocates as a priority in their schedule. and then another strategy that comes in the relationship between ambassador amber crombie's efforts at the state department and then one thing that makes me happy is a know there is a focus on retaining to retain those employees but there still a lot of work ahead. >> thank you for your answers. >> you said you didn't have answers to the data points if this is something that the diplomats are realistically facing and with that data point i would be curious to know how a foreign country receiving one of our diplomats decides that somebody whatever it is our why they are
denying. thank you. >> now officially four round number two. want to return to the devastating crisis in ukraine that many trans- individuals are finding it difficult to leave for fear safety and harassment. that are very they cannot pass internal checkpoints makes it especially difficult that man ages 18 through 60 are obliged to see those who have identified on —- identification are fearful they will have difficulty if they choose to leave that is concerning that trans- individuals are also targeted violence that is intolerant towards lgbtqi+ persons individuals.
>> thank you so much for your question representative jacobs. my office has been seized was safety and security of trends ukrainians. and in addition away the vulnerability in general my offices have convened multiple consultations and roundtables with lgbtqi+ before the invasion began and civil society and ig oh one —- and non- one —- the ngo to work with those before the war began. because it is appear not importance to get fast breaking information about how people are targeted what the problems are. without a doubt the fact that trends ukrainians have
struggled to cross ukrainian borders have been top of mind and to see examples of where people have not been able to cross borders those who have needed assistance because they been afraid to leave their homes and they have stayed in precarious situations the same way showing embalming and because of their gender identity does not align with legal documents. and seeking opportunities to convey our concerns to the authorities when and where we can. and additionally our highlight we are concerned about potential discrimination and harassment of lgbtqi+ ukrainians who leave ukraine and are traveling to countries in the region that also have their own serious issues of homophobia and trends phobia
and of those of the shelters and other emergency and direct services and also seized with the issue to ensure that humanitarian support is delivered without discrimination. so the issues of ukraine are probably the top issue for my office right now and i share your concerns doing everything possible to engage and i'm happy to say that prm have also been constant partners in responding to these issues. >> thank you for your work and let us know what more congress can do to help you with that. also to talk about the un lgbtqi+ i understand you are a cofounder of the group can you talked about the work you
drive quick nation on these issues that the human? >> i'm happy to talk about the core group is an incredibly important mechanism for government to exchange ideas with one another about the ability of the un system to integrate full programming for lgbtqi was persons is always to have a robust body of work it would be instrumental in the recent passage of the general assembly resolution of free and fair elections that made explicit reference to sexual ventilation and gender identity only the second evolution the history of you into make reference to sexual orientation and gender identity and on the corporate
agenda for that visibility for those issues throughout the year and open mainstream issues into the un mandate. we are almost at a time when you ask that i know that it's hard to be something. >> i appreciate that. thank you about upholding the democratic values nobody should live in fear of death threats for who they love and how they are centered on her international efforts america must demonstrate leadership from what we preach abroad. the proof that when chile believes that the action a look forward to working with a
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