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Susan Rice Highlights Obama Administration Leadership and Achievements on Global LGBTQ Rights

Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor and a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., spoke out forcefully this week on the need to protect LGBTQ people around the world.  HRC, Human Rights First (HRF) and the American University School of International Service (SIS) hosted the event in Washington, D.C.  

HRC President Chad Griffin, HRF President Elisa Massimino and SIS Dean James Goldgeier also spoke at the event, which was attended by students, activists and government officials.  

“At a time when extremists are throwing gay men off buildings, when transgender women are being relentlessly attacked in Central America, when laws are being passed to silence and marginalize LGBTQ people, they need American leadership now more than ever before,” said Griffin. “We must continue to open our doors to those who are escaping violence and persecution, not build a wall around the promise of liberty and justice for all.”

Enumerating the Obama Administration’s solid and impressive record of achievements in promoting LGBTQ rights in the last eight years, Ambassador Rice declared that the protection of LGBTQ rights around the world is a moral, strategic and economic imperative that is “profoundly in our interests.”  

Some notable achievements of the present Administration include the release of a presidential memorandum directing U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance to promote LGBTQ rights, the appointment of Randy Berry as the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, the appointment of eight openly gay ambassadors, the establishment of a $30 million Global Equality Fund to support grassroots activists, joining the U.N. Core Group that advocates equality, pushing through a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on the human rights of LGBTQ people and ensuring equal benefits for LGBTQ federal employees.

Despite these unprecedented gains, Rice said that immense challenges continue to exist and much work remains to be done. She highlighted how Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha, a leading opponent of the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, and other activists were arbitrarily arrested by police for participating in a peaceful pride event in August. After a global outcry, including from HRC, he and the others were released within hours. Rice also tweeted a picture of her meeting Mugisha in the White House to show the Administration’s commitment to LGBTQ activists around the globe.

While this level of U.S. engagement is not always possible, Rice said such involvement can go a long way in advancing global LGBTQ rights and protecting activists.

Deadly acts of anti-LGBTQ hate-motivated violence have claimed too many lives in the U.S. and abroad. In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State, has executed alleged gay men by using a variety of exceptionally brutal methods. In Bangladesh, the LGBTQ activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy were murdered by religious extremists in April. Rice declared these and other activists around the world to be “heroes” in an ongoing battle for equality.

HRC applauds the tremendous gains made on global LGBTQ rights under the Obama Administration and will continue to advocate for a continuation of these policies under the next Administration. Read more about HRC Global’s work here