House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Holds Historic LGBTQI+ Rights Hearing

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) welcomes testimony from LGBTQI+ human rights defenders

Background

Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) will make history, holding its first-ever full committee hearing focused on LGBTQI+ rights titled “Advancing and Protecting LGBTQI+ Rights Abroad.” The hearing will provide an opportunity to elevate concerns around stigma, violence, and discrimination against LGBTQI+ people around the globe because of who they are or whom they love, as well as ways in which the United States can advance LGBTQI+ rights worldwide.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, has been advocating for this hearing since March 2020, when AJWS sent a letter from more than 350 Jewish rabbis and cantors from 36 states and the District of Columbia to the Committee. Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at AJWS released the following statement to welcome this hearing.

Statement of Rori Kramer, Director of US Advocacy for American Jewish World Service

“We are grateful for the leadership of Chairman Meeks and the Committee’s commitment to global LGBTQI+ rights and we look forward to the hearing shining a spotlight on the challenges facing LGBTQI+ people worldwide.

“Crucially, we welcome the testimony of three LGBTQI+ human rights defenders, all of whom have dedicated their lives to defending human rights within their own countries and around the world. Julie Dorf (Council for Global Equality), Njeri Gateru (National Gay &Lesbian Human Rights Commision), and Isabela Gonzalez (Alejandria Collective) have fought anti-LGBTQI+ laws, demanded accountability for human rights violations, and advocated for their communities. We applaud the inclusion of LGBTQI+ rights leaders in this historic hearing, and we encourage Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to use this hearing as an opportunity to elevate key human rights issues, including U.S. engagement in multilateral institutions, U.S. investments in global health and global LGBTQI+ rights programs, and the root causes of LGBTQI+ migration.

“This historic hearing will demonstrate that the United States must center the human rights of LGBTQI+ people in its foreign policy if it is to  truly uphold the values set forth by the Biden-Harris administration.  We encourage Members of Congress to support increased funding for global LGBTQI+ rights programs, including the State Department’s Global Equality Fund and USAID’s Protection of LGBTQI+ Persons, as well as investments in The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)  and international family planning and reproductive health. We also urge Members to cosponsor and pass legislation that will promote LGBTQI+ rights. This includes:

  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Global HER Act, legislation that would permanently repeal the global gag rule – a draconian policy that has undermined LGBTQI+ peoples’ access to health care services;
  • Congresswoman Dina Titus’s Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality (GLOBE) Act, a comprehensive LGBTQI+ rights bill that would build an inclusive U.S. foreign policy; and
  • Congressman David Cicilline’s Global Respect Act, a bill that demands accountability for violations of the human rights of LGBTQI+ people through the use of the U.S. sanctions regime.

“As a Jewish organization committed to recognizing the dignity of all people, we celebrate HFAC’s historic, first-ever full committee hearing on global LGBTQI+ rights, and we look forward to working with Congress to advance policies that would elevate LGBTQI+ rights worldwide.”

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Madeline Cohen at mcohen@ajws.org during AJWS office hours from 9 am to 5 pm eastern time, Monday through Thursday. If you are on an urgent deadline on a Friday, over a weekend or during evening hours, please write Stuart Schear at sschear@ajws.org.