Last weekend, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power delivered an impassioned keynote at HRC’s Spring Equality Convention. Ambassador Power is a strong advocate for equality and has often used her position to advance LGBT equality efforts.
The Ambassador’s remarks on Saturday provided the narrative of how LGBT rights have gained salience within the Obama Administration, beginning with President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum in 2011.
“(The memorandum) made the struggle to end discrimination against LGBTI persons a central part of our government’s efforts to promote human rights around the world,” she said. “From fighting the criminalization of LGBTI status; to directing significant resources to empowering LGBTI groups abroad; to responding swiftly and meaningfully when governments have repressed LGBTI rights.”
She also articulated the many challenges that continue to plague the LGBT community around the world. Over 70 countries still criminalize same-sex activity or relationships and Ambassador Power called on the U.S. government and civil society to continue to spread the powerful message that LGBT rights are human rights, both at home and abroad.
Ambassador Power also called on HRC and other leading LGBT organizations to continue to partner with advocates around the world and to listen to local advocates on the ground.
“It is so crucial that groups like HRC take the expertise you’ve built over decades to train advocates in other countries who are facing daunting obstacles,” she explained. “Hearing from them how we can most effectively empower them to lead their own efforts to equality, always guided by the simple principle that it should never be too much to ask for everybody’s basic human rights to be respected; and that no one should be subjected to violence or discrimination just because of who they are.”
Notable guests, such as U.S. Special Envoy for the Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry and National Security Council's Director for Multilateral Affairs and LGBT Rights Curtis Ried, were in the audience. Ambassador Power highlighted the work of these two leaders, noting that Berry has traveled to 42 countries since being appointed and that Reid oversees the LGBTI portfolio at the National Security Council.
HRC thanks Ambassador Power for her leadership and looks forward to working with her to help expand LGBT equality abroad.