WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a report summarizing the progress U.S. agencies have made in combating LGBT human rights abuses overseas, according to the White House.
“The reports were submitted by agencies as required by the president’s memorandum, and we will issue a summary in the near future,” Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House National Security Staff, told the Washington Blade.
On Dec. 6, the same day that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a high-profile speech in Geneva, Switzerland, saying LGBT people across the world “have an ally in the United States of America,” President Obama issued a memorandum calling on all U.S. agencies doing work overseas to step up efforts promoting international LGBT rights.
Six months later, has the U.S. government heeded the call for more action?
All agencies working in foreign countries had to prepare a report within 180 days of the date of the memorandum — and each year afterward — on their progress toward advancing these goals. The agencies were directed to submit their reports to the State Department, which in turn was directed to compile the reports to transmit to the White House.
The memorandum was issued on Dec. 6, which means that agencies would have had to submit their reports by June 6 to meet the deadline of 180 days.
Daniel Baer, who’s gay and the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, confirmed in a Blade interview that the State Department submitted its contribution, but deferred to the White House about the status of the compiled reports.
Baer said his department’s submission was a “highlights reel” of recent work on LGBT human rights — such as U.S. embassies’ work in holding events, reaching out to LGBT communities advocating to foreign governments — which when all tied up will “show a picture of increasingly across the board engagement on these issues.”
“Advocating for the human rights of LGBT people is becoming part of the daily work of our embassies and officials here in Washington and is very much a central part of overall human rights policy,” Baer said.
On Tuesday, the U.S. embassy in Kenya hosted a Pride event in which MaqC Eric Gitau, general manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya gave remarks. Another Pride celebration took place earlier this month at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo. Also this month, the U.S. embassy in Albania hosted a regional LGBT conference.
For the domestic audience, Clinton issued a video in honor of June as Pride month, saying in her remarks, “United States embassies and missions throughout the world are working to defend the rights of LGBT people of all races, religions, and nationalities as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy.”
Baer declined to comment on the content of the reports other agencies have submitted. According to the memorandum, among them are the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health & Human Services and Homeland Security as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corp., the Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Trade Representative.