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U.S. One Of 85 Countries Calling For An End To Anti-LGBT Violence

March 23, 2011 1:46 pm ET by Equality Matters staff

A joint statement Tuesday from the United Nations Human Rights Council aimed at ending violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals worldwide drew the historic support of 85 countries. The United States along with Colombia and Slovenia led the drive to assemble signatories for the statement entitled "Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based On Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity."

White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement explaining that American diplomats had spent the past several months "engaged in frank, and at times difficult, conversations about the human rights of LGBT persons" with governments around the world. Carney added that President Barack Obama views the advancement of the "human rights of minorities and the marginalized" as a "fundamental American value."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that U.N. member countries don't always agree on every issue. "In Geneva, our conversations about the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals with countries where sexual orientation is not only stigmatized, but criminalized, are helping to advance a broader and deeper global dialogue about these issues," Clinton said in a statement. "[W]e will not rest until every man, woman and child is able to live up to his or her potential free from persecution or discrimination of any kind."

The State Department released a fact sheet about the U.N. statement on its website:

  • A core group of over 30 countries engaged in discussions and sought signatures from other UN member states for the statement. In many places, United States diplomats joined diplomats from other states for these conversations.
  • This statement adds new references not seen in previous LGBT statements at the UN, including: welcoming attention to LGBT issues as a part of the Universal Periodic Review process, noting the increased attention to LGBT issues in regional human rights fora, encouraging the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue addressing LGBT issues, and calls for states to end criminal sanctions based on LGBT status.
  • 20 countries joined this statement that were neither signatory to the 2006 or 2008 statements.
  • The statement garnered support from every region of the world, including 21 signatories from the Western Hemisphere, 43 from Europe, 5 from Africa, and 16 from the Asia/Pacific region.

The release of the Joint Statement follows Obama's weekend visit to Brazil, during which he and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that they would be working within the Organization of American States to create a "Special Rapporteur" to help promote "respect for the human rights" of LGBT individuals around the world.