Thursday, March 15, 2007

Human Rights Watch Won't Web-Post Gay State Dept Citations

To their credit, the Human Rights Watch has devoted valuable staff time and resources to reading and extracting gay and HIV mentions in the latest US State Dept annual human rights report, and HRW has shared the extractions on various listservs and through email.

But it has not seen fit to web-post the extractions to their superbly informative and richly documented LGTB page, and a release about gay/HIV references in the State report is not forthcoming. Click here to read GLAA's extractions.

Nonetheless, I am pleased HRW's gay director occasionally can professionally engage in respectful communication with this activist blogger and via email, inform the larger gay community of his important work, the gay related work of HRW helping so many gays today, and sharing knowledge about other sources of global reports of gay interest. I welcome his offer to make other suggestions to improve HRW's gay page.

I wonder: What would Eleanor Roosvelt do if asked to use all her communication skills and modern resources to publicize the gay State Dept report citations? Maybe I should ask myself that question more often of myself when engaging in global gay activism. What would Mrs. Roosevelt do in my shoes?

For the handful of people who give a damn about global gay issues and assuring that human rights groups do all they can to cite ANY government's documents showing the need to respect the human rights of gays and people with HIV, and efforts to use the US State Dept's own annual human rights survey to better the lives of gays across our planet, you should find this exchange of emails of interest.



Thanks. We are not going to web-post the compilation we have done without being in a position to perform a critique of its comprehensiveness and accuracy; and with the Human Rights Council underway and a major launch planned there, we have no time to do that. Moreover, as I’ve made clear elsewhere, I think it is more appropriate for local activists in the countries concerned to decide whether to publicize and use the US government’s analyses than for my program to make that decision for them.

We have circulated the compilation we did (and to repeat, I do not vouch for its own comprehensiveness) to our constituencies and on almost every relevant listserve, so that activists have the opportunity to determine how to use it. It has been posted and reposted, and activists outside the US who for some reason have not seen it are not likely to do so as a result of a further press release.

I might note that we take the same position with regard to the references to sexual orientation and gender identity in the UN independent experts’ reports—which have been very helpfully compiled by ARC International, and which are arguably even more useful to many activists than the State Department’s reports. We’re helping to circulate that; but we haven’t the resources to do a full analysis at the moment, and we rely on our partners at ARC for that. The International Commission of Jurists also publishes a thorough collection of UN language on sexual orientation and gender identity, which I recommend to everyone on all occasions.

That said, our website contains a library of international jurisprudence on sexual orientation and gender identity (not fully up-to-date, but look for major expansions in the coming months)---materials which have the force of law, unlike the US report--and other resources which many activists around the world do use. I’m happy to direct you to that (, and if you have suggestions for improvement there we are of course happy to hear them.


Scott Long
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program
Human Rights Watch

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Fri 3/16/2007 1:04 AM
To: HRW Toronto; Human Rights Watch; Iain Levine; HRW BE; Steve Crawshaw; Urmi Shah;; Peggy Hicks; HRW Berlin; Human Rights Watch EU; HRW UK; Steve Crawshaw; HRW DC; Ken Roth; HRW GVA; Urmi Shah; HRW SF; Camille Hawit

Subject: HRW Asked to Web-Post Gay Citations in US State Dept Human Rights Report

Dear Friends and Allies at HRW,
I wish to applaud HRW's ongoing examination of the latest annual human rights report from the US State Dept for gay and HIV citations, and for also culling those citations and sharing them through emails and listservs. With HRW using its resources and staffers in this effort is much appreciated by gay human rights activists globally.
The importance of comprehensive inclusion of gay and HIV references in State's report was well underscored in a Washington Blade article in 2005 about that year's report:
> Paula Ettelbrick, the executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, agreed that it was "a very positive development."
>"Anytime a government acknowledges the human rights situation of LGBT people that's a good thing," she said. (Source: )
I therefore am asking HRW to build on the positive steps it has already done, through the valued leadership of Scott Long, in calling attention to State's latest report and request that HRW post its gay/HIV extractions from it on this page: .
Frankly, I think many global gays read the HRW gay page for info such as contained in the State report and they may not otherwise know about it, except if HRW informs them.
Actually, what would be most appreciated is if HRW would not only post the gay/HIV extractions on its site, but also issue a news release to the gay and mainstream media. Doing both the posting and issuing a release, on top of the ongoing sharing through email and listservs by Scott Long, will build a more informed press, human rights community and increase awareness of the horrible abuses gays and people with HIV/AIDS suffer.
As we work together to improve respect of the human rights of gays and people with HIV/AIDS worldwide, I again salute HRW hard-working gay researchers and their reading and excerpting of the State report.
I hope to soon blog about HRW going the extra two steps of making the excerpting visible on the HRW page, and sending out an alert that the citations are posted on your site.

Best regards,
Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 2:42 PM
Subject: FW: Updated State Dept

The previous version included a couple of mistakes an omissions. Apologies-it was late in the evening when I sent it out, and I accidentally attached an earlier draft. I haven't been in the office since Friday to send out the updated one. Also, note that this compiles HIV references that occur in the context of LGBT issues. We'll try to get a fuller compilation of HIV references out soon. Apologies again,

Scott Long
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program
Human Rights Watch

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