State Department to appoint special envoy for LGBT rights

The U.S. Department of State is currently vetting candidates to become a special envoy to advocate for the rights of LGBT people overseas, a StateUS Department of State seal Department official told the Boston Globe today (Thursday, Feb. 5). The official told the newspaper the person appointed to the position will be chosen from among openly LGBT current State Department officers, and the department will announce its choice by the end of February.

The new position will be an extension of the State Department’s recent initiatives to enhance and discuss LGBT rights in the U.S. and abroad.

Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, called the new position “a welcome development and historic moment the U.S. government’s progress in promoting the dignity and equality of LGBT people around the world.”

Stern continued, “The creation of the special envoy position is a significant advance in the increasing institutionalization of LGBT rights in U.S. foreign policy. With opponents in both houses of Congress and in countries around the world, the potential of this position to heighten credibility and increase resources for LGBT issues in international development and cooperation comes just in time. We hope that the special envoy will act with strategy, with sensitivity and with meaningful input from grassroots LGBTI communities. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has long supported creation of this position, and we look forward to engaging with the State Department’s chosen nominee to make a difference in the lives of individuals by affirming their basic human rights.”

—  Tammye Nash

IGLHRC Issues Statement On Iran

The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission has issued a statement on yesterday’s story about the possible execution by stoning of two young men in Iran for having gay sex. At IGLHRC’s request, I pulled my first post on the story while they investigated. Via email:

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has received reports of the imminent execution of two men in Piranshahr, Iran. By some media accounts, Ayub and Mosleh have been sentenced to death for raping a young man, filming their actions, and inserting images of President Ahmadinejad into the film. There have been reports that the men are scheduled to be killed by stoning on January 21. IGLHRC has been unable to confirm the allegations in this case.

This case is evidence, however, of much bigger problems in Iran: widespread abuse in the justice system and censorship of information. People, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and convicted on baseless charges. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to know the facts that lie behind convictions.

IGLHRC condemns the use of capital punishment in all instances, including this one, regardless of the alleged acts with which the individuals have been accused or convicted. Likewise, IGLHRC condemns all forms of sexual violence and rape. We call on the Government of Iran to immediately annul any execution order related to this case, to end the practice of death by stoning, and to repeal the criminalization of same-sex activity.

“Iran has an impenetrable and opaque criminal justice system that makes knowing what is really happening inside the country impossible,” said Hossein Alizadeh, Regional Coordinator for IGLHRC’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “What we do know is that killing is wrong in all its forms, even when committed by the State.”

I will update you at once when further information is available.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin