Thursday, December 15, 2005

OutRage! UK: Report Antigay Abuses to US State Dept

Our brothers and sisters acros the pond in OutRage! UK, who work tirelessly year-round on behalf of gays around the globe, issued this press yesterday. Please keep in mind that we have until December 31 to submit reports of antigay human rights abuses to the US State Department. Send your reports today!

US State Department urged: document gay human rights abuses
OutRage! says: “Report the Abuse”
Evidence will support LGBT rights campaigns and asylum seekers

London – 14 December 2005

Pressure is mounting on the US State Department to improve its documentation of global LGBT human rights abuses.

Critics complain that the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report often fails to document the full scale of homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence in many countries.

“The US State Department reports are weak and inadequate on gay issues, as are the human rights reports of most countries. They under-estimate the true scale of anti-gay persecution,” said David Allison of the London-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights group OutRage!

“OutRage! is joining forces with US activists to press the US State Department to expand its coverage of the persecution of LGBT people in its 2006 Human Rights Report.

“We are backing the new ‘Report the Abuse’ campaign.

“We urge LGBT groups worldwide to provide the US State Department with full documentation of gay human rights abuses. Give them the facts, so they have no excuse to overlook homophobic and transphobic victimisation.

“The deadline for submissions is 31 December. Details of how to make submissions follow below. Submissions can include media reports, NGO documentation, victim statements and LGBT group reports. All documentation should be dated and referenced.

“The current failure of the State Department to document many abuses means US government agencies and embassies often neglect to include protection and support for LGBT people in their foreign funding, health and education programmes.

“US State Department human rights reports are a primary information source for government’s worldwide when they consider asylum claims from LGBT people fleeing persecution. If we can get the State Department to document homophobic and transphobic abuses it will improve the likelihood that persecuted LGBT people will be granted asylum.

“Documentation of LGBT rights violations can help shame some offending governments to curtail their homophobia. In particular, countries dependent on US aid are vulnerable to pressure. If the US State Department confirms abuses, this could be powerful, influential leverage on certain governments,” said Mr Allison.

“Thanks to the initiative of Californian gay activist, Michael Petrelis, the US State Department had agreed to consider documentation of LGBT human rights violations for inclusion in its 2006 Human Rights Report,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“It has appointed a State Department official – LeRoy Potts, in the Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs – to collect and collate information, which will then be considered for inclusion in the 2006 report.

"It is an urgent priority for the US State Department to update and expand its documentation of global human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The massive scale of homophobic and transphobic persecution worldwide is grossly under-documented in all official human rights reports.

“OutRage! will be submitting evidence to the US State Department, based on our firsthand evidence from the many LGBT refugees we are supporting," said Mr Tatchell.

Speaking on behalf of Gays Against Execution, a San Francisco-based committee dedicated to ending capital punishment, “Report the Abuse” campaign originator, Michael Petrelis, said:

"All our documents concerning abuses, like Iran's executions of gay teenagers and Poland's hostility towards gays attempting to peaceably assemble in the streets, will be shared with the US State Department."

“By submitting evidence of gay human rights abuses worldwide, people will help improve the US State Department's monitoring of such abuses, and expand a data base that can be used by human rights campaigners pressing for an end to homophobia. The data will also help corroborate the claims of gay people fleeing persecution and seeking asylum.

“The annual human rights report is a comprehensive collection of summaries concerning each nation’s degree of respect for, and adherence to, international standards of human rights.

“The US State Department is required to present this report to Congress. In 1990 only one country report, on Denmark, mentioned gay rights. Since then, the annual report has grown to include summaries of more than four-dozen countries' records - generally abysmal - on gay human rights.

“We hope next year's annual human rights report will be the most gay-specific and gay-inclusive one yet,” said Mr Petrelis.

Sending your documentation of LGBT human rights abuses via e-mail is faster and more secure than sending documentation by post, but you can do either.

All submissions should be headed, US State Department Human Rights Report 2006, and be addressed to:

LeRoy Potts
U.S. Department of State
Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs

Email submissions should be sent to:

Postal mail goes to:

LeRoy Potts
U.S. Department of State
Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs
Room H242
2401 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

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