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 MarkeyEd MarkeyThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (D-Mass.).
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.