Washington, D.C.— In connection with ongoing confirmation ongoing hearings, Equality California has requested that senators question Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson on whether he would continue the State Department’s existing broad commitment to global LGBT human rights if he is confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.
“Under Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry, the United States has been a potent force for LGBT human rights around the world,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Our hope is that Mr. Tillerson will continue policies that further LGBT equality and human rights, especially in countries where our community faces criminalization, violence and even death for being LGBT.”
In a letter sent to members of the U.S. Senate, Equality California urges them to press Tillerson to commit to preserving a number of State Department policies and programs protecting LGBT people, including:
• the mandate of the State Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, responsible for defending and promoting global LGBT civil rights
• ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance programs promote and protect global LGBT human rights
• engagement with human rights organizations and with national governments around the world to protect LGBT people in countries that criminalize and discriminate against them
• funding for and expansion of the Global Equality Fund, an initiative made up of governments, private foundations and corporations supporting organizations that protect and advance LGBT human rights
• support for USAID’s LGBT Global Development Partnership along with current funding levels for a range of LGBT human rights programs
• existing policies allowing transgender Americans to change gender markers on passports
• existing LGBT non-discrimination policies for State Department and foreign service employees
• benefits and allowances for same-sex couples and families of foreign service employees sent to serve abroad, as well as accreditation of diplomats regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Equality California also is calling on senators to question Tillerson specifically on several other issues:
• whether he believes that LGBT human rights are a core U.S. foreign policy priority, and if so, how he would express that commitment
• whether he supports federal non-discrimination policies for State Department and foreign service employees
• whether he will continue to monitor global conditions for LGBT people and to make them a part of the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report to Congress
• how he would direct the Department to work with countries supporting LGBT advocates
• how the State Department would deal with the nearly 80 countries around the world where LGBT people face open discrimination, arbitrary arrest, violence and abuse
• how he would deal with LGBT refugees and asylum seekers
• whether he supports the office of USAID’s Senior LGBT Coordinator, to ensure that LGBT human rights are fully integrated into USAID’s vital overseas work.
Equality California made these requests because of the importance of maintaining existing State Department that protect LGBT employees from discrimination and that advance LGBT equality and human rights around the globe.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org