United States: Ask the US to Sign International Statement on Human Rights

Next week, during the session of the United Nations General Assembly, a joint government statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity will be presented from the podium. It will be the first time that the General Assembly has formally addressed violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As of today, 55 countries spanning 4 continents have signed on to the statement and 5 more countries have indicated their willingness to sign on to the statement, which calls for greater attention to human rights violations perpetrated because of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

And, as of today, the United States has not signed on to the Joint Statement.

IGLHRC and the Council For Global Equality strongly encourage the LGBT community and our allies to send letters today to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Assistant Secretary Brian Hook, and the US Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, asking that the United States join its colleagues from around the world in speaking out against the torture, arrests, violence, discrimination and stigma faced by so many people everywhere because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Letters to Secretary Rice and Assistant Secretary Hook can be faxed to +1-202-736-4116 or emailed to the US State Department by clicking on this link: http://contact-us.state.gov/, and then clicking on the “email a question/comment” tab and filling out the on-line form. Letters to Ambassador Khalilzad can be faxed to +1 212-415-4443 or emailed to: usa@un.int.

Sample Letter

December 12, 2008

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

During the current United Nations General Assembly session, 55 member states will present a Joint Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and another 5 have indicated that they are willing to sign on to the statement. The Statement reaffirms the universality of human rights and specifically voices concern about the treatment so consistently suffered by those whose sexual orientation or gender identity are the basis for torture, violence, discrimination, stigmatization and death.

We are very troubled and mystified that the United States has not yet joined this non-binding call for basic human rights. We write to ask you to sign onto the Joint Statement and take on the leadership of urging others to join as well.

The widespread incidents of human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, and all sexual minorities are indisputable. They have been documented thoroughly by NGOs around the world and the UN, and reported with great frequency in the international press. The US State Department itself reports yearly on a variety of violations documented by Embassies around the world. And, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that both laws criminalizing homosexuality and government action that targets LGBT people for discrimination are unconstitutional.

As you yourself so accurately stated on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration “transcends political and ethnic differences and national boundaries, even as it embraces humanity in all of its diversity.”

The countries that have signed onto the Statement include: Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chile, Cuba, Cyprus, Ecuador, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, San Marino, Sao Tome et Principe, Serbia, Switzerland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uruguay, and Venezuela. All 27 member states of the European Union are also signatories. And, we are still receiving word of additional countries that have agreed to sign on.

Shouldn’t the United States join this call for universal human rights and against the continued mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world? We eagerly await your response.


Paula L. Ettelbrick

Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission


His Excellency Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary


United States Mission to the United Nations
\t140 East 45th St
\tNew York, NY 10017
\t+1 212-415-4443


Assistant Secretary Brian Hook, Bureau of International Organization Affairs


2201 C Street NW
\tRoom 6323
\tWashington, DC 20520
+1 202-736-4116