U.S. State Department should protect international LGBTQ human rights, bill says

International LGBTQ Rights

Two Congressman, including Rep. Alan Lowenthal, above, hope the third time will be the charm for a bill that would direct the State Department to defend human rights for LGBTQ people around the world. Photo: Office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal.

Two Congressman hope the third time will be the charm for a bill that would direct the State Department to protect human rights for LGBTQ people around the world.


The International Human Rights Defense Act of 2018 has been simultaneously introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts). Markey, the original author, also introduced the bill in 2016 and 2017.

“All too often, people are persecuted for who they are or who they love. This is wrong no matter where it happens,” Lowenthal Tweeted last week when the bill was introduced. “No matter what, the United States must continue to lead the way for freedom and equality; to send a clear message that LGBTI rights are human rights.”

Under the proposed legislation, which is supported by 65 members of the House of Representatives and 19 U.S. senators, the State Department would do several things:

  • Prevent and respond to discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community globally
  • Devise a global strategy to address discrimination against the LGBTI community
  • Coordinate with local advocacy groups, governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector, to promote international LGBTI human rights
  • Create the permanent position of Special Envoy on the Human Rights of LGBTI People in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, which will be responsible for coordinating the efforts of all federal programs to defend the human rights of the LGBTI community internationally
  • Maintain a section on the LGBTI international human rights in the annual State Department Report on Human Rights.


“This special envoy position at the State Department will be a global model for defending LGBTQ rights around the world,” Markey said in a statement. “For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defend the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBTQ community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere.”

More than 70 nations criminalize the LGBTQ community with sexual orientation laws, according to International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, and in seven of them, being gay is punishable by death.

About the author

Beatriz E. Valenzuela

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is an award-winning journalist who’s covered breaking news in Southern California since 2006 and has been on the front lines of national and international news events. She also covers all things nerd, including comic book culture and video games. She’s an amateur obstacle course racer, constant fact-checker, mother of three, and lover of all things geek.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!