Directed by the 2011 Presidential Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, the United States works to promote respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) persons both at home and around the world, according to a press release from the White House.
What follows is the full release:
We do so knowing that, in too many places, people are threatened, tortured, and even killed for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Indeed, LGBT persons are highly vulnerable to hate crimes and bias-motivated violence globally and there is evidence that crimes against LGBT persons, especially transgender persons, are on the rise. The United States and countries around the world have enacted hate crimes legislation that criminalizes or enhances penalties for violent acts committed because of a person's race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability or some other status. A subset of those laws, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the United States, include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Obama Administration aims to provide a swift and meaningful response to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad. Addressing the hate crimes and bias-motivated violence faced by LGBT persons is vital to achieving that goal and advancing our broader human rights policy. To this end, on June 12 the White House hosted a Conversation on Combatting Bias-Motivated Violence Against LGBT Persons Around the World. Participants had the opportunity to engage with Obama Administration officials on the ongoing efforts by governments and private actors to address bias-motivated violence targeting the LGBT community. The forum also provided an opportunity for experts to discuss how law enforcement, judges, legislatures, governments, and civil society can work together to address bias-motivated violence.
Beyond the June 12 event, we are taking a number of steps across the U.S. Government to address this challenge.
Work with Foreign Law Enforcement Partners
The State Department trains civil society leaders and security sector officials on LGBT issues. In 2014, State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs partnered with the Atlanta Police Department to launch a new course on combatting hate crimes for criminal justice practitioners from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Mexico at the State Department-run International Law Enforcement Academy ( ILEA ) in El Salvador. The Hate Crimes Course focused on the vital role of law enforcement in addressing hate crimes against members of the LGBT community. In 2015 this regional ILEA will again deliver the Hate Crimes Course to criminal justice practitioners from Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2014, the State Department worked with the International Association of Chiefs of Police ( IACP ), as well as various municipal police departments, to develop an International Police Education and Training Program ( IPET ) initiative in Haiti focused on improving police response to crimes against marginalized groups through police training, mentoring, and exchange. The initiative culminated in the Haitian National Police developing a new training curriculum on responding to crimes against members of vulnerable groups including the LGBT community. The police academy incorporated the curriculum into its basic training and has delivered it to more than 1,000 cadets who have since graduated into the police force.
Also in 2014, as part of a broader human rights program, the State Department supported the visit to Mexico City of a U.S. police detective and the head of the Gay Officers Action League ( GOAL ). The visitors spoke about the role of GOAL and police protocols for interacting with the LGBT community during a panel on public security on the margins of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ( ILGA ) World Conference. The detective also participated in workshops on LGBT issues at the Mexico City Police Academy and the Federal District Police Academy.
The State Department supports the Violent Crimes Task Force ( VCTF ), formerly the Special Victims Task Force, which investigates and supports the prosecution of LGBT-related homicide cases among other high-profile crimes in Honduras.
The U.S. Agency for International Development ( USAID ) works with civil society, law enforcement, lawyers, and judges to build communities of practice to better promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. USAID activities include: support for training and resources for pro bono lawyers who work to defend the rights of LGBT individual; promoting judicial independence; and developing curriculums and hosting educational events for law students, public officials, police, and judges on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
Partnering with Governments
Through the Department of Justice's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training ( OPDAT ), San Diego Superior Court Judge Ted Weathers, the first openly gay judge to be appointed in San Diego, California, and his husband Terry McEachern, addressed the Government of Kosovo's Advisory and Coordination Group for the Rights of the LGBT Community. The couple held several workshops with local legal professionals about how to effectively enforce laws that protect the LGBT community, including prosecuting hate crimes. OPDAT has also worked in Macedonia to amend language to the Crimes Code which adds discrimination against "marginalized groups," including LGBT persons, as an aggravating factor in sentencing.
OPDAT-Albania, helped draft the Albanian anti-discrimination law, prohibiting discrimination based on different criteria including sexual orientation or gender identity. The OPDAT program also worked with the Albanian State Police to provide training for officers working with LGBT victims of crime. In June 2012, OPDAT-Albania hosted the U.S. Government's first regional LGBT workshop in the Balkans, including over 100 participants from 17 countries. The workshop brought together civil rights leaders and nongovernment organizations to share best practices for protecting LGBT individuals fro