Dems push ‘special envoy’ to advocate for gay rights abroad

Democratic senators on Thursday introduced a bill that would make the protection of gay rights a top diplomatic priority of the State Department.

“For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defending the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere,” said lead bill sponsor, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

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S. 2472, the International Human Rights Defense Act, would direct the State Department to make preventing discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a strategy to achieve those goals. 

The bill also establishes the position of special envoy for the human rights of LGBT peoples within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The position holder would be responsible for coordinating the outreach and strategy of U.S. efforts to defend the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).

“The International Human Rights Defense Act will foster a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies so we can meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe,” Markey said Friday.

Markey said the bill was necessary because more than 80 countries have criminalized homosexuality, with a number of those countries making it punishable by death.

More than 20 Senate Democrats are co-sponsoring the bill.