Yesterday, the White House hosted the first-ever Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights, bringing together participants from around the world, and across sectors — including faith and business leaders, health advocates, representatives of civil society and philanthropic organizations, and members of the diplomatic corps. During panel discussions and in breakout sessions, these committed leaders discussed how to advance a common goal: promoting and protecting the human rights and dignity of LGBT people wherever they are threatened around the globe.
In welcoming participants, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, highlighted the work all of these groups are doing to advance equality for LGBT people in America, and called on them to continue that work internationally in partnership with the U.S. government.
And in a keynote address, Ambassador Susan Rice, the President's National Security Advisor, spoke of the Obama administration’s deep commitment to promoting respect for the human rights of LGBT people at home and abroad.
She noted the steps that we have taken under the President’s leadership at home — ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; ensuring that LGBT federal employees and their families enjoy the same benefits as their coworkers; prosecuting hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity; and ceasing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act because it was unconstitutional.
She spoke of the challenges we and our partners face in advancing this agenda abroad, noting that there are nearly 80 countries where discrimination against LGBT citizens is enshrined in law, and seven where same-sex acts are currently punishable by death.
And she challenged the group to look for new ways to work together, seeking “concrete commitments that will bring us closer to our goal.”
We look forward to working together to harness the energy and ideas generated by the Forum.