News Releases

Washington, D.C. – As the nation celebrates National LGBT Pride Month, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has cosponsored legislation that would affirm LGBT human rights are a foreign policy priority for the United States government. The International Human Rights Defense Act, introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), would direct the Department of State to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority, devise a global strategy to achieve those goals, and establish a position in the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for coordinating that effort.

More than 80 nations around the world have laws that criminalize homosexuality, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia. In seven countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. The adoption of these hateful laws has sped up in recent years, and the effects of discriminatory laws can be felt throughout society.

“As many nations sanction discrimination and hatred against LGBT people, the United States must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for equality throughout the world,” said Senator Murray, an original cosponsor of the legislation.  “I am pleased to support the International Human Rights Defense Act, which will foster a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies to meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe.” 

The International Human Rights Defense Act directs the Department of State to:

  • Make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals.
  • Coordinate efforts to promote international LGBT human rights with local advocacy groups, governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector.
  • Create the position of “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Peoples” in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which will be responsible for all inter-bureau and inter-agency coordination of the United States government’s efforts to defend human rights for the LGBT community internationally.
  • Continue to include a section on LGBT international human rights in the annual State Department Report on Human Rights.