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Rep. Lowenthal and Sen. Markey Hail New State Department Special Envoy on LGBT Rights

Lawmakers introduced legislation to create position, affirm LGBT rights as a foreign policy priority

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Washington, D.C., February 5, 2015 | comments

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today applauded the announcement from the U.S. State Department that it is creating a new Special Envoy position to advocate for LGBT rights. The lawmakers called for the position in legislation introduced last week, the International Human Rights Defense Act. The legislation was originally introduced by Senator Markey in June 2014. The legislation directs the State Department to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals. The legislation establishes a Special Envoy position in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to coordinate that effort.

“America is a beacon of freedom and equality to the rest of the world. We must lead by example,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “The appointment of a LGBT Special Envoy is another step to making sure that our fundamental American ideals of equality, equity, and diversity are properly reflected in our foreign policy. As a nation, we can, and should, take a leading role in defending the rights of all human beings across the globe to live, love, and prosper.”

More than 80 nations around the world have laws that criminalize homosexuality, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia. In seven countries, including Nigeria, home to 175 million people, homosexuality is punishable by death.

“I welcome the State Department's action on my call to make defending LGBT rights a foreign policy priority,” said Senator Markey. “This special envoy position at the State Department will be a global model for defending LGBT rights around the world. For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defend the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere. I look forward to working with Secretary Kerry and the State Department as it affirms our nation's commitment to equality for all people around the globe.”
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