Leading Jewish Global Human Rights Organization Mobilizes More than 350 Clergy Leaders to Mark Pride Month

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) calls on Congress to protect the most vulnerable in COVID-19 response

Today, more than 350 Jewish clergy from 36 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee urging the committee to make every effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the global LGBTQI+ community when drafting bills related to the U.S.’s international response to the pandemic. Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy for American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, issued this statement:

“To mark Pride Month, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has mobilized more than 350 rabbis and cantors to urge the House Foreign Affairs Committee to promote the rights and dignity of the most marginalized people – including LGBTQI+ individuals – in the U.S.’s international response to COVID-19.

Jewish leaders across the U.S. support the rights and dignity of LGBTQI+ people around the globe, who face criminalization, discrimination, and violence in their communities. In 70 countries, LGBTQI+ people are criminalized simply because of who they are or whom they love. Additionally, millions of LGBTQI+ people face human rights violations through discrimination in employment, housing and healthcare.

Tragically, COVID-19 is exacerbating these challenges rooted in anti-LGBTQI+ prejudice. As lock downs continue across the world, many LGBTQI+ people have lost their livelihoods and face even greater barriers to crucial healthcare services due to the pandemic. In some countries, those in the LGBTQI+ community are scapegoated and falsely charged for spreading COVID-19, and some governments are using COVID-19 lock down measures as an excuse to violate the human rights of LGBTQI+ people and other vulnerable groups.

We recognize the inherent dignity of all people and with the support of 363 Jewish clergy, we are calling on the U.S. Congress to stand with the global LGBTQI+ community.  At a time when LGBTQI+ people are celebrating the strength of their community, rabbis and cantors call for justice and equality. We urge Congress to elevate human rights and ensure that all international assistance is provided in a non-discriminatory manner, including in the provision of global health programs. Today, we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI+ people who are too often overlooked by or blocked access to government aid.

As this deadly pandemic intensifies around the world, this matter is more urgent than ever: Congress must elevate the importance of human rights for LGBTQI+ people and other vulnerable groups.”

You can read the full Jewish clergy letter here. A letter was also sent to the Senate leaders from nearly 1,000 American Jewish World Service supporters from across the country, underscoring our commitment to supporting the most marginalized, including LGBTQI+ people, during this global pandemic to build a more just world.

About the human rights work of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) 

AJWS funds LGBTQI+ human rights groups in 19 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and mobilizes the American Jewish community to advocate for U.S. policies that support human rights abroad. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all.




For More Information

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 Tanyanika Davis, Director of Media Relations, at tdavis@ajws.org.