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June 24, 2019 at 1:40 pm PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Lawmakers form group to fight anti-LGBTI discrimination around the world

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) speaks at a Human Rights Campaign event on Jan. 4, 2019. The California Democrat is among the lawmakers who have created the Global Equality Caucus, which seeks to fight anti-LGBTI discrimination around the world. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lawmakers from more than two dozen countries have formed a new group that seeks to combat anti-LGBTI discrimination.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Dominican Congresswoman Jacqueline Montero, Canadian MP Randy Boissonnault, Venezuelan Assemblywoman Tamara Adrián, Philippine Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Kenyan MP Esther Passaris, British MP Nick Herbert and Sen. Aziza Lake of Antigua and Barbuda are among the upwards of 100 legislators who have joined the Global Equality Caucus.

A press release indicates the Global Equality Caucus will “support” efforts to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations and “the end of violence against LGBT+ people.”

The Global Equality Caucus will “promote equal rights and nondiscrimination and ensure that LGBT+ people have equal access to healthcare, including HIV treatment and support for trans people.” The press release also says the Global Equality Caucus “wants to ensure that data is collected so that governments can be held accountable for how LGBT+ people are treated, and support funding for NGOs which are working for LGBT+ people.”

A formal announcement is scheduled to take place on Friday at the U.N.

The press release says the Global Equality Caucus “is open to legislators across the world regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“In too many places around the world LGBT+ people face discrimination and live in fear,” said Herbert in the press release. “We need to stand up for them, and politicians are in a unique position to drive change. We pass laws, vote funds and influence leaders. We have a platform to speak for those whose voice cannot be heard. The Global Equality Caucus will make the case for change, united by a belief in equality for all.”

Takano said the Global Equality Caucus “will give us a chance to learn from each other’s successes and better understand the challenges that exist in different nations.” New Zealand MP Louisa Wall agreed.

“As a passionate human rights practitioner, and a proud indigenous takatapui lesbian cis woman, I am committed to developing and supporting initiatives that uphold principles of equality and non-discrimination and protect the rights of our most vulnerable,” she said in the press release. “LGBTIQ+ human beings and citizens globally have a right to exist as we are. That is why the Global Equality Caucus is so very important.”

Friday’s announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The Trump administration earlier this year announced openly gay U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell will lead an initiative that encourages countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

The State Department last month did not publicly acknowledge the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. It has also not issued a Pride month statement.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on Monday defended a policy that prohibits U.S. embassies from displaying Pride flags on official flag poles.

“The Global Equality Caucus will be a network that will advance the rights of people throughout the world,” said Takano. “At a time when the cause of LGBT equality seems to be gaining ground in many places, but falling behind in as many others, the need for this caucus could not be greater.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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