Posted by: iglhrc | June 15, 2012

Celebrating Pride… Beyond the White House

By Jessica Stern and Peter Dunne

On June 15, as U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a reception at the White House to mark Pride Month, the now annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lives across the United States, there was much to contemplate about U.S. foreign policy and LGBT human rights.

While many celebrated advances made in the U.S. over the past year, this annual White House reception is an opportunity to recognize the efforts the Obama administration has made to promote LGBT human rights beyond U.S. borders. In December 2010 U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice spearheaded efforts to ensure that sexual orientation would remain part of a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. Last December Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke movingly at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva of how “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” And President Obama the same day issued an executive memorandum calling upon U.S. diplomats to make LGBT human rights a priority in American foreign policy.

President Obama has gone further than any of his predecessors in advocating protections for individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, creating important opportunities for activists both at home and abroad. In so doing he has also raised significant questions. While many countries still see homosexuality as a “Western import,” how can the U.S. government support nascent LGBT movements internationally without compromising the political credibility of those involved?

In attempting to assist LGBT advocates globally, the Obama administration must keep in mind the first principle of international development, as noted by British researcher Stephen Wood: “[Listen] to the lived experience of those you are campaigning to support.” Around the world, even in the most homophobic and transphobic countries, LGBT individuals and advocates exist. These individuals know their environment and are best placed to effect real change at the local level.

To improve the lives of LGBT people outside the United States, President Obama and his administration must first engage with people where they are and seek to understand the reality of their daily lives. They must seek to acknowledge, as Secretary Clinton did before the Human Rights Council, that LGBT advocates in the Global South have agency and that they are already formulating diverse, nuanced strategies to enforce their own rights. Rather than dictating a prepackaged governmental agenda or engaging in government-to-government negotiations, the Obama administration should work to understand how it could offer assistance within the framework of existing community action. As Trinidadian advocate Colin Robinson has written, it is those who “live in, understand and engage daily with the states and the localities we wish to change must form the pivot around which any international advocacy strategy or emancipatory movement is built.”

In cases where domestic advocates welcome and encourage the participation of the U.S. government, it may well be appropriate for the Obama administration, led by local partners, to play an active role in seeking LGBT equality at the national level. In other circumstances, local LGBT activists may feel that association with the United States, or any Western government, would be counterproductive and expose them to the allegation of collusion with a foreign power. In that case, stepping back and recognizing that the local activists “know best” would be the course to take, in order to allow national conversations to take their course.

This delicate diplomatic balance is not the only challenge. President Obama has taken a bold and just stance on LGBT human rights internationally. Now, Congress and other American political leaders have a vital role to play. The issue of LGBT human rights must not become one more wedge issue in American culture wars. We urge congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to put aside partisan differences and support the human rights of all people, everywhere, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity.


  1. […] human rights of all people, everywhere, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity.  By iglhrc | June 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Categories: Activism, Advocacy, Human Rights, LGBT,Sexual […]

    Liechtensteinklammstr. 126
    A-5600 St.Johann im Pongau

    Dear Sir

    Fristsetzungsantrag in der Sache Jad ALHALABI, Zl. E6 423.307-1/2011
    Good day to you. this my case and evidence .
    My name is Jad Alhalabi, I am currently seeking asylum in Austria, but the Austria government is following the human rights and justice and they are correct but I can prove it through my documents that they are not.
    And I am not safe here in Austria ?
    I got troubles in here by a Tunisian man that he even told me that he will kill me and attacked on me with a knife in his hand. I complained for Austrian police in St.Johann im pongau, but they have denied it and told me that when I see blood in my body then I can come to police even though I had medical report from the hospital then the police accept my complain and give me a copy of my complain letter but told me if I show it to anybody then the police makes problems for me and the name of that police man is Roman RAINER .I am not safe here in Austria.
    In 06.09.12 I had a roommate. He is from Chechens country and his name is Hassan we were living in one room and without any reason he argued with me and tried to beat me. But that time it didn’t happen and after one day he tried to beat another person in the pension and I complained to the chaifeen of this pension and the chaifeen told him to change the room then in 11,09,2012 I came to my room and saw him in my room and told him to leave my room but he didn’t listen to me and started beating me after that I called the police, police came just took our names and told me that always you make these problems and they were tow police men then at the same night when the police left this person ( Hassan) started fighting with all the people in the pension and said that I will beat all the people in this pension and went out of pension, then in the next day he came with another person, that person was also from Chechens and his name is Adam and both of them said that they will come with other Chechens people to beat or kill all of us then at the same date at night they came with four vehicles and they were around 20 people with the knifes in their hands to beat or kill us, at the same time we tried to defense and called the police, when the police came they escaped and police couldn’t arrest them, and in the morning we went to police station and complained about them because they can come any time to fight us.
    We are not safe in here and when ever I face with any problem and I go to police they always tell me that I am making problems the ID number of the police man is 4711.
    but if I make problem then why should I go to police and ask for help.

    I want to make formal complaint against the Austrian Government with UN in USA ?
    And how can I get protection from the United Nations and the private papers to get them and I will be refugee under the UN?

    Please check the attachments for my case and evidence.
    Thank you very much and sorry for taking your time
    And for you all respect and thanks

    Jad alhalabi

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