State Department disputes HRC claim US refused to sign Chechnya statement

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The State Department on March 20 disputed the Human Rights Campaign’s claim the U.S. refused to sign a U.N. statement that calls for an investigation into Chechnya’s anti-LGBTI crackdown.

Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the U.K. and Uruguay signed the statement that was presented during a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 18.

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Report: Trump admin to launch global effort to decriminalize homosexuality

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The Trump administration is launching a new initiative to encourage nations to decriminalize laws against homosexuality, according to NBC News.

The initiative is reportedly set to kick off Feb. 19 in Berlin, where the U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner.

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Heather Nauert withdraws name from consideration as next UN ambassador

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The State Department on Feb. 16 announced spokesperson Heather Nauert has withdrawn her name from consideration to become the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

“I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary Pompeo for the trust they placed in me for considering me for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations,” said Nauert in a statement that deputy State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino released. “However, the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration.” 

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Anti-LGBTI crackdown in Chechnya continues

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The Washington Blade has confirmed a report that indicates several men and women were recently detained in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation.

Igor Kochetkov, a prominent Russian LGBTI rights activist, on Jan. 11 told the Associated Press the detentions began late last month.

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Trump to nominate Heather Nauert as next US ambassador to UN

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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President Trump on Dec. 7 said he will nominate State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert to succeed outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.

Nauert, a former Fox News reporter, has been with the State Department since 2017.

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US ‘troubled’ by anti-LGBTI crackdown in Tanzania

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Nov. 9 said the U.S. is “troubled” by the Tanzanian government’s anti-LGBTI crackdown.

“The United States government is deeply concerned over escalating attacks and legislative actions by the government of Tanzania that violate civil liberties and human rights, creating an atmosphere of violence, intimidation and discrimination,” she said in a statement. “We are troubled by the continued arrests and harassment of marginalized persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of speech, association and assembly. Legislation is being used to restrict civil liberties for all.”

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HRC joins protest against Trump, Putin before Finland summit

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The Human Rights Campaign on Sunday urged President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to publicly condemn the ongoing anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya during their summit in Finland.

The organization specifically projected onto the side of the Presidential Palace in the Finnish capital of Helsinki where the meeting took place on Monday slogans that read, among other things, “Trump and Putin: Stop the crimes against humanity in Chechnya” and “The whole world is watching.” The projections also urged Putin to “investigate LGBTQ persecution” in Chechnya and to “bring the perpetrators to justice.”

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Egypt court releases two people arrested for raising rainbow flag at concert

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: An Egyptian court has released two people who were arrested after they raised a rainbow flag at a concert in September. Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr

An Egyptian court has released two people who raised a rainbow flag during a Cairo concert in September.

Egyptian Streets — which describes itself as an “independent, young and grassroots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets” — on Tuesday reported the Giza Criminal Court released Sarah Hejazy and Ahmed Alaa on $56.37 (1,000 Egyptian pounds) bail.

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Pence urged to raise anti-LGBT crackdown in Egypt

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Dozens of members of Congress on Monday urged Vice President Pence to raise Egypt’s anti-LGBT crackdown when he visits the country.

“In recent years, independent civil society groups have been the target of a concerted government effort to silence their voices and limit their ability to operate,” notes a letter that U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and 71 others signed. “Minority groups, including religious minorities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have been the targets of discrimination and violence. Independent media organizations have been shuttered and dozens of journalists, bloggers and citizens have been jailed for their speech.”

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State Department spokesperson acknowledges Spirit Day

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Thursday acknowledged a campaign that seeks to combat bullying.

Nauert at the beginning of a press briefing told reporters that “today, along with many of my colleagues here at the State Department, including members of the LGBTI community, in association with GLIFAA (a group that represents LGBT and intersex Foreign Service members), we are — many of us are wearing purple today to celebrate Spirit Day.”

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LGBT envoy to remain in State Department overhaul

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday indicated the special U.S. envoy for the human rights of LGBT and intersex people will remain in place under a State Department overhaul.

Tillerson in a letter to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the position “will be retained and continue to be organized under the” State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Tillerson wrote the position “will continue to be held by a deputy assistant secretary.”

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