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Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Protect LGBTQ Rights Worldwide

Congresswoman Dina Titus
Congresswoman Dina Titus

Dina Titus's GLOBE Act would require the U.S. to document persecution abroad and assure access to asylum.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada Monday introduced a bill aimed at protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people worldwide.

The Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality (GLOBE) Act would codify the State Department position of Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, which was established under President Barack Obama but has remained vacant under Donald Trump, notes a press release from Titus's office.

The GLOBE Act would also "require the State Department to document cases of human rights abuses and discrimination against LGBTI people around the world, and institute sanctions against foreign individuals who are responsible for egregious abuses and murders of LGBTI populations," according to the release. "Additionally, the bill ensures fair access to asylum and refugee programs for LGBTI individuals who face persecution because of their sexual orientation."

"No person should suffer from discrimination because of who they are or whom they love," Titus said in the release. "Under the Trump administration, the U.S. is failing to protect the rights of LGBTI people at home and abroad. This bill will help restore our role in promoting LGBTI rights around the world and punishing regimes that persecute people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."

The administration in February did make a positive move by announcing a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality around the world, led by Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and the highest-ranking out gay official in the Trump administration. Trump himself, however, appeared to have no clue about the campaign when asked about it.

Titus's release mentions a more recent move by the administration that was troubling to supporters of equality. The State Department has established a new advisory committee, the Commission on Unalienable Rights, to "provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation's founding principles of natural law and natural rights," as the Federal Register notice on the body reads.

The talk of the "founding principles of natural law and natural rights" made some activists suspect the commission would be hostile to the rights of LGBTQ people and women, and indeed, its members, announced this month by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are largely conservative Christians. Its chair, Mary Ann Glendon, has been a staunch opponent of marriage equality and abortion rights. Pompeo "appointed several commissioners with troubling records on LGBTI issues," Titus's press release notes.

Fifty members of the U.S. House have written a letter to Pompeo expressing concern about these records, while right-wing activists such as the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins have praised the commission's establishment.

Titus's legislation has 52 original cosponsors and support from House leadership and many civil rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, PFLAG National, GLAAD, the Center for American Progress, and Amnesty International USA.NET

"As the State Department under Secretary Pompeo is creating a hierarchy of human rights with religious freedom as their sole priority, we fear that their true intention is to alienate the rights of LGBTI people," Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said in Titus's press release. "The GLOBE Act is a remedy to that dangerous, ideological shift in our nation's long-standing human rights policy."

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