WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) was joined by fellow Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in introducing the “Global Respect Act,” bipartisan legislation which would impose sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals abroad.
Currently, more than 80 countries criminalize consensual same-sex relations, and about a dozen countries enforce homophobic laws with the death penalty.
“The Global Respect Act is bipartisan legislation that would place sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations against LGBTI individuals around the world,” said Portman. “This bill makes it clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye to persecution and human rights violations occurring outside of our borders.”
“It’s unconscionable that LGBTI communities around the world face persecution, jail and murder because of who they love and how they identify. The U.S. has a moral imperative to make clear to the international community that LGBTI rights are human rights,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to hold accountable individuals who trample on the rights of their citizens by committing clear human rights violations. This bill empowers the administration with enhanced authority to ensure violators face repercussions and expand protections for LGBTI folks around the world.”
“No one should be subjected to discrimination — ever. But sadly we see it happening every day and to utmost extreme forms,” said Murkowski. “This bill sends a strong signal that the United States prioritizes equality for all and puts human rights front and center — that we won’t stand by idly and let persecution to any group of people go unnoticed or without consequence. By creating and strengthening repercussions for those who carry out human rights violations, my hope is that we prevent it from happening in the first place.”
“In far too many countries, individuals face persecution simply for who they are or who they love,” said Markey. “The Global Respect Act affirms that protection of LGBTQI rights is at the center of U.S. efforts to build back a better human rights policy by holding to account those who deny the basic rights of LGBTQI individuals. We must be clear: LGBTQI rights are human rights, and our foreign policy must reflect those values. I applaud the Biden administration for appointing a LGBTQI Envoy last week and for sending a visible message about our support for LGBTQI rights around the word by raising the Pride flag from over 130 U.S. Embassies and Consulates this month.”
Specifically, the Global Respect Act would:
-Require the Executive Branch to biannually send Congress a list of foreign persons responsible for, or complicit in cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment of an individual; prolonged detention of an individual without charges or trials; causing the disappearance of an individual by abduction and clandestine detention of an individual; other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of an individual;
-Deny or revoke visas to individuals placed on the list, with waivers for national security or to allow attendance at the United Nations;
-Require the annual State Department Report on Human Rights to include a section on LGBTI international human rights, as well as an annual report to Congress on the status of the law’s effectiveness; and
-Require the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to designate a senior officer responsible for tracking violence, criminalization and restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in foreign countries based on sexual orientation or gender identity.