President Obama got a letter Friday from 25 Democratic senators urging him to make a change on his global LGBT policy before the end of the year.
"In nearly eighty nations around the world there exist laws that criminalize homosexuality, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia," wrote the senators, asking the president to appoint a special envoy for LGBT human rights in the U.S. Department of State. "In seven countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. Even more troubling, though, is the recent trend of countries passing barbaric laws that deliberately try to persecute the LGBT community."
The letter, authored by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, echoes legislation the senator proposed in June to enact the International Human Rights Defense Act of 2014. If passed, the legislation would create a special diplomatic envoy whose job it would be to promote, protect, and defend the rights of LGBT people throughout the world.
"The White House appreciates the letter and the Obama Administration remains committed to protecting the right of LGBT people both here and abroad," White House spokesman Shin Inouye told Metro Weekly. "We have no specific announcements to make, but look forward to working with Congress as we promote the human rights of all people."
The International Human Rights Defense Act would make responding to discrimination and violence to LGBT people a priority for the U.S. State Department, according to the Washington Blade.
"Time is of the essence," the senators wrote in closing. "It is crucial that this position be established as soon as possible to ensure that it is carried over into the next administration. By appointing this senior official before the end of this calendar year, your administration can ensure that the position is embedded into the culture of the State Department before the end of your term in office."
Read the letter below.
Senate Letter on LGBT Special Envoy
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