HRC hailed the bipartisan reintroduction of the Global Respect Act on Wednesday by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The legislation would provide a new mechanism to prevent the world’s most anti-LGBTQ state actors from receiving a visa and entering the United States. The bill was introduced with 60 cosponsors in the House and eight in the Senate.
“The Global Respect Act would make clear to the world that the U.S. is not open to those who abuse, harass, and murder LGBTQ people,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director at HRC. “This is the right moment to send that message, when the government in Chechnya is trying to eliminate all gay people from their territory and gay Chechens are literally fleeing for their lives.”
If passed, the Global Respect Act would further empower the U.S. government to use its authority to aggressively deny or revoke visas of foreign officials who have a significant role in the violation of LGBTQ people’s rights in their home countries. This would send a signal to world leaders and officials – such as those in Chechnya, Uganda and other places – that they cannot persecute LGBTQ people, seek to travel to the U.S. and expect to be welcomed here.
“While we’ve seen tremendous progress towards equality in the United States, the LGBT community is still threatened by violence and harassment here at home and around the world, “ said Sen. Shaheen in a statement on the bill’s reintroduction. “Recent reports of LGBT persecution in Russia and Indonesia are horrifying. No one should live in fear of physical violence or oppression because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Global Respect Act would send a strong message to the international community that those who persecute LGBT individuals are in violation of human rights and are not welcome in the United States.”
Rep. Cicilline said: “The United States and the international community have a responsibility to condemn horrific acts of discrimination and targeted violence against all individuals, including egregious offenses based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Global Respect Act will protect the rights of the LGBT community across the globe and uphold America’s commitment to defending basic human rights in all corners of the world.”
LGBTQ people around the world continue to face harassment, violence and bigotry. Seventy-two countries criminalize same-sex sexual activity. That means that more than one-third of United Nations member states criminalize consenting, adult, same-sex sexual relations. In up to ten countries, same-sex sexual relations may be punishable by death, and so-called anti-LGBTQ “propaganda” laws inhibit LGBTQ advocacy in at least three countries.
The recent reports of gay men being rounded up, tortured, and even killed in the Russian republic of Chechnya serves as an important reminder of the atrocities LGBTQ people face around the world. From the day the news about detentions and abuse of gay men in Chechnya broke, HRC has been in contact with advocates in Chechnya and Russia to better understand how we can support their efforts and has been working to engage our coalition partners, Congress and the Administration to address this crisis. The Global Respect Act would provide an additional tool to put pressure on Chechen leaders to put a stop to the torture and killing of gay men in the region.
Click here for more information about the bill.