In a bipartisan vote today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that enhances the United States’ commitment to protecting LGBTQ rights around the world.
Introduced by out gay Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus, the Global Respect Act would prohibit those who have committed LGBTQ human rights abuses abroad from obtaining a visa to enter the United States.
The legislation would apply to both state and individual actors and would also enshrine into law policies already in place in the State Department (DOS) regarding required reporting of LGBTQ human rights abuses.
“By passing this legislation that would restrict people who engage in these terrible abuses from entering the U.S., we can send a message that our country stands with the LGBTQ+ people of every nation and won’t stop fighting for their freedom and equal rights,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also celebrated the 227-206 vote, saying that the House “took a bold step forward in protecting the fundamental rights and dignities of the global LGBTQ community.”
Pelosi lamented that so many perpetrators of anti-LGBTQ abuse do not face consequences. “The Global Respect Act will help counter that injustice, barring offenders from entering the United States, gathering new data on anti-LGBTQ human rights violations and holding perpetrators accountable, including through additional sanctions,” she said.
In his own statement, Cicilline – who introduced the bill along with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) – acknowledged the “dangerous trend of increasing violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and their families.” He said that “in too many places, violence against LGBTQI+ communities is pervasive, and even sanctioned or directed by government officials.”
Today’s vote in the House, he continued, “sent a strong message around the world that every member of the LGBTQI+ community deserves to live with dignity and free from violence, unlawful detention, torture, and other forms of brutality.”