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November 18, 2010
In This Issue
Council Celebrates Two Years of Advocacy
Council Meets with Under Secretary of State Maria Otero
US Record on LGBT Rights Reviewed at UN Human Rights Council
Council Facilitates Amsterdam Summit of National LGBT Groups
Council Raises LGBT Hate Crimes and Discrimination at Human Rights Conference in Warsaw
Are Multinational Corporations Caring More About Their LGBT Employees Around the World?
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Greetings!

We've been busy this fall promoting a U.S. foreign policy inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. I hope you'll read more about our work and join us in promoting global equality today.
Council Celebrates Two Years of Advocacy
Global Equality 2 year CelebrationIn November, the Council for Global Equality celebrated its second anniversary with a reception hosted by the Open Society Foundations. The reception marked two years of committed advocacy to promote a U.S. human rights policy that responds to the needs of some of the most marginalized and targeted LGBT communities worldwide. A catalogue of some of the Council's two-year accomplishments, which have been realized with the close support of our 19 organizational members, is available here.
Council Meets with Under Secretary of State
Maria Otero


Rainbow Flag ImageCouncil staff and member organizations met with the State Department's Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs to thank her for the Department's work to address LGBT rights in a global context and to ask for additional support to integrate LGBT issues into the strategic planning efforts of the State Department. The Under Secretary wrote a blog about the meeting for DipNote, the State Department's official blog site, where she noted that "these are not single-issue advocates, but a group of dedicated human rights professionals who seem well-prepared to effectively carry their concerns into our democracy and overseas as an integrated part of our overall human rights diplomacy."
US Record on LGBT Rights Reviewed at UN Human Rights Council

United Nations Geneva Flags ImageIn early November, a high-level U.S. government delegation defended our country's human rights record before the Human Rights Council at the UN in Geneva. In preparation for the review, the Council submitted an NGO report to the U.S. government and to the UN emphasizing the lack of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. The Council is pleased that during the meeting, known as the "Universal Periodic Review," the U.S. delegation freely admitted that our civil rights record is incomplete and that LGBT Americans are among those fighting to achieve full equality.

More than 30 U.S. officials, including senior government representatives from eleven departments and agencies, traveled to the UN's European headquarters in Geneva to give the world a "snapshot" of the human rights landscape in the United States. The official U.S. report that was submitted in advance of the review offers a candid discussion of LGBT rights, grounding the struggle to promote LGBT equality firmly within our country's civil rights movement. The U.S. explains to the world that "in each era of our history there tends to be a group whose experience of discrimination illustrates the continuing debate among citizens about how we can build fair societies. In this era, one such group is LGBT Americans."

See our press statement here, and watch the UN review online here.

Council Facilitates Amsterdam Summit of National LGBT Groups
Europe Globe Photo

In early November, the Council co-convened a meeting of twelve national LGBT advocates from across Europe to share strategies and lessons on NGO-government partnerships with foreign affairs agencies. Leaders from Ireland to Spain discussed plans to support--and help shape--the work of their governments on behalf of LGBT communities abroad.

During the first two years of the Obama Administration, the U.S. has joined many European and other nations that have led the way in their responsiveness to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, both through bilateral and multilateral interventions. The Council welcomes this changed direction, but we are also mindful of an unfinished agenda on LGBT equality, both in the U.S. and abroad. Moreover, many of our European government partners extend not only diplomatic support, but also financial support to LGBT civil society organizations in developing nations. The U.S. is only just beginning to offer similar financial support through our human rights, global health and economic development programs overseas.Through this forum, the Council will promote coordination among foreign affairs agencies and donors as the U.S. continues to invest in LGBT equality abroad.

Council Raises LGBT Hate Crimes and Discrimination at Human Rights Conference in Warsaw
Michael Guest OSCE Warsaw ImageIn October, during a discussion of efforts to combat hate crimes and promote tolerance and non-discrimination at an international human rights conference of the OSCE (which includes all of Europe and North America), the head of the U.S. delegation, former U.S. Ambassador and Council adviser Michael Guest, put aside his official statement to speak directly to delegates "from the heart." He offered a very personal and very forceful appeal to collected governments to implement effective hate crimes protections for all minority communities, including LGBT individuals. (Read his remarks, as delivered, here.) He noted his personal experience as the victim of a gay hate crime, and he reminded diplomats in the room that the commitments they make have profound, daily consequences in the lives of ordinary people. At the end of the meeting, in response to a hostile NGO that equated homosexuality with pedophilia and necrophilia, Guest noted how offensive such a connection was, and that such inflammatory allegations can lead to hate crimes.

While much of the meeting focused on hate crimes directed at religious and ethnic minorities, several other governments joined Guest in condemning LGBT violence, as did several NGOs. As a civil society representative, Mark Bromley, speaking for the Council for Global Equality and joined by two Europe-based LGBT organizations, called on all governments that have not already done so to adopt hate crimes laws that recognize LGBT bias as an aggravating circumstance with enhanced and effective penalties. Invoking the year-old Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the United States, and honoring the memory of Matthew Shepard, who was brutally assaulted twelve years ago this week, Bromley noted that "today, Matthew's murder is recognized as a national tragedy; the fact that similar tragedies have been repeated so often across the entire OSCE region is a shameful reality." A representative of Amulet, an LGBT organization from Kazakhstan, also called on the OSCE to address targeted violence against LGBT communities in Central Asia.
Are Multinational Corporations Caring More About Their LGBT Employees Around the World?
OutThe Council organized a discussion on global workplace equality at the Out&Equal Workplace Summit in Los Angeles this October. With a record number of global-themed workshops, this year's Summit marked rising concern for corporate America's attention to equality in the workplace abroad. Fourteen sessions--ranging from corporate equality in Hong Kong, India, and London to helping employee resource group leaders extend their memberships globally--became known as the "international track" at this year's Summit. The Council facilitated one information-rich workshop on expanding equality in the global workplace, which can be viewed here. The most recent global equality findings from the Human Right Campaign's Corporate Equality Index (CEI) were analyzed at this session. Although not part of how HRC currently scores corporations, the annual CEI collects information from over 600 American corporations about their policies and practices in overseas operations. Of the U.S.-based multinational corporations, only 54% currently extend their benefits to same-sex partners in all locations around the world. And only 52% have both sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies globally. Clearly, our collective work is not done.

While there are still many unmet challenges on the road to improve the workplaces for LGBT employees globally, the tone of this year's Summit was optimistic and dynamic. The trend is clearly heading toward safer and more equal working environments for all employees everywhere. And with the increasing and combined efforts of employee group leadership, diversity and human resource management, senior executives and CEOs, as well as outside advocates and watchdog groups, we can ensure that corporate America stands for equality and fairness for LGBT people abroad.
Sincerely,
mark sig web




Mark Bromley
Council for Global Equality