WILMINGTON, Del. — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined his colleagues in reintroducing the Global Respect Act. This legislation would impose sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex individuals abroad. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).  

Over 80 countries criminalize consensual same-sex relations, and about a dozen countries enforce homophobic laws with the death penalty. 

“The United States has a responsibility to stand up for the freedoms and liberties of the LGBTQ+ community around the world,” said Senator Coons, co-chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus. “We must continue our work to hold accountable the perpetrators of violence or other injustices against LGBTQ+ individuals. The Global Respect Act sends an important bipartisan message that the United States will not tolerate such abuses.”

“It’s unconscionable that LGBTI communities around the world face persecution, jail and murder because of who they love and how they identify. The U.S. has a moral imperative to make clear to the international community that LGBTI rights are human rights,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to hold accountable individuals who trample on the rights of their citizens by committing clear human rights violations. This bill empowers the administration with enhanced authority to ensure violators face repercussions and expand protections for LGBTI folks around the world.” 

“No one should be subjected to discrimination—ever. But sadly we see it happening every day and to utmost extreme forms,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bill sends a strong signal that the United States prioritizes equality for all and puts human rights front and center— that we won’t stand by idly and let persecution to any group of people go unnoticed or without consequence. By creating and strengthening repercussions for those who carry out human rights violations, my hope is that we prevent it from happening in the first place.”

“Throughout my Senate service, I have worked to end discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would take a clear stand for human rights and send a message that the United States will not tolerate attacks against LGBTI individuals.  I urge our colleagues to join us in supporting this legislation to help end this persecution worldwide.”

“The Global Respect Act is bipartisan legislation that would place sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations against LGBTI individuals around the world,” said Senator Portman. “This bill makes it clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye to persecution and human rights violations occurring outside of our borders.” 

“Governments around the world are making dangerous threats against our LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors,” said Senator Merkley, who authored and led the introduction of the Equality Act in the U.S. Senate. “We cannot sit idly by while this abuse and discrimination continues. Every person—regardless of who they are or whom they love—has the right to be treated with decency and respect, and to live their life free from fear of discrimination or violence. We can’t give up in our fight to defend that right for those at home in America and for people around the world." 

“In far too many countries, individuals face persecution simply for who they are or who they love,” said Senator Markey. “The Global Respect Act affirms that protection of LGBTQI rights is at the center of U.S. efforts to build back a better human rights policy by holding to account those who deny the basic rights of LGBTQI individuals. We must be clear: LGBTQI rights are human rights, and our foreign policy must reflect those values.  I applaud the Biden administration for appointing a LGBTQI Envoy last week and for sending a visible message about our support for LGBTQI rights around the word by raising the Pride flag from over 130 U.S. Embassies and Consulates this month." 

“America is at our best when we stand up against human rights abuses whenever and wherever they occur. I’m glad to join with my colleagues in introducing legislation that would impose visa bans on those responsible for human rights violations of LGBTI individuals abroad,” said Senator Murphy.

"No one should face persecution because of who they love or how they identify," said Senator Wyden. "America must stand with the global LGBTI community and make it clear that LGBTI rights are human rights." 

“As Pride Month comes to an end, this legislation sends the unambiguous message that the United States will not stand by while the human rights of the LGBTI community are threatened around the world,” said Senator Blumenthal. “By utilizing sanctions through visa bans and increasing tracking of criminalization and violence, the Global Respect Act serves as a measure of accountability against those responsible for or complicit in committing sexual orientation and gender identity-based acts of violence. I’m proud to join this bipartisan coalition to ensure the United States remains a world leader in the fight for human rights.”

Specifically, the Global Respect Act would: 

  • Require the Executive Branch to biannually send Congress a list of foreign persons responsible for, or complicit in cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment of an individual; prolonged detention of an individual without charges or trials; causing the disappearance of an individual by abduction and clandestine detention of an individual; other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of an individual; 
  • Deny or revoke visas to individuals placed on the list, with waivers for national security or to allow attendance at the United Nations; 
  • Require the annual State Department Report on Human Rights to include a section on LGBTI international human rights, as well as an annual report to Congress on the status of the law’s effectiveness; and 
  • Require the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to designate a senior officer responsible for tracking violence, criminalization and restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in foreign countries based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom House and Council for Global Equality. 

Full text of the bill is availablhere.

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