This week, the State Department submitted a report [pdf] to the United Nations Human Rights Council discussing what actions the U.S. has taken to address human rights issues in the U.S., including what it has done to address LGBT human rights issues in the U.S. The U.S. submitted this report as part of its upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council, which is scheduled for November 2010.
In their report, the State Department explains that “in each era of our history there tends to be a group whose experience of discrimination illustrates the continuing debate among citizens about how we can build a more fair society” and that “in this era, one such group is LGBT Americans.”
The report continues by mentioning several actions that the U.S. government has taken to work towards protecting the human rights of LGBT Americans. These actions include enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, prohibiting employment discrimination in federal employment based on sexual orientation, and the extension of some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. Moreover, the report cites the Administration’s support of key legislative efforts, such as passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and legislation that repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, as government actions that promote equality. Unfortunately, Administration support of these legislative efforts does not remedy any form of discrimination against LGBT people until Congress takes actions on these measures.
Prior to the release of the State Department’s report, HRC, as a member of the Council for Global Equality, submitted a report [pdf] to both the State Department and UN Human Rights Council to highlight ways in which the United States could improve LGBT human rights. We commend the State Department for recognizing the discrimination faced by LGBT Americans in their report, and we will continue to work throughout this year to ensure that the concerns of LGBT Americans will be addressed in the U.S.’s upcoming UPR.