Bipartisan Senate Resolution on Chechnya Passes in Senate

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praises the swift, bipartisan passage of Senate Resolution 211, a condemnation of the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The resolution, led by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), passed last night in a voice vote with strong bipartisan support. The resolution had a total of 46 cosponsors, including members from both sides of the aisle.

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HRC Responds to Court Decision Blocking Trump-Pence’s Discriminatory Ban on Trans Troops

Today, HRC responded to the decision by a U.S. Federal Judge to block enforcement of the Trump-Pence Administration’s unconstitutional ban on military service by transgender troops.

“Today’s preliminary injunction is an important step in the ongoing efforts to protect transgender service members from the dangerous and discriminatory policies of Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s Legal Director. “Donald Trump’s erratic tweets and half-baked orders disrespect the bravery of the countless transgender people who have fought, and in many cases died, for their country. The immediate harm to our national defense and to the thousands of transgender people serving and wishing to serve their country must be stopped — and we are grateful that a federal judge has blocked this administration from discharging any qualified individuals because of their gender identity while these cases continue to make their way through the courts.”

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58 Human Rights Groups Call on Tillerson, Mnuchin to Impose Burma Sanctions 

Washington, D.C.—In response to the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Burma, Human Rights First, in coalition with 58 human rights, labor rights, and religious organizations today called on Secretaries Tillerson and Mnuchin to take immediate action against Burmese military officials responsible for crimes against humanity and other atrocities committed against the country’s Rohingya population.

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DHS Changes Policy for Immigrants Held in Limbo for Terrorism-Related Bars

Washington, D.C.— Human Rights First today expressed concern over an announced policy change by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) that will affect individuals applying for permanent residence and other benefits who are deemed to be inadmissible for some association with a group characterized as an undesignated or Tier III terrorist organization under the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA). Specifically, the change will eliminate a hold for individuals for whom the statute allows a discretionary exemption, but no exemption has yet been implemented.

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Egypt and Russia Must Not Be Allowed To Remove Inclusive Language from UN’s Olympics Resolution

In advance of each Olympics, the United Nations General Assembly passes an “Olympic Truce Resolution” to pledge support for the Olympic spirit, for the athletes and for the host country. The resolution includes a reference to “Principle 6” of the Olympic Charter, which commits the Olympics to not discriminate on the basis of a number of factors, including sexual orientation. This year, however, Egypt and Russia are working to remove all references to Principle 6 from the resolution, because of the language on sexual orientation.   

“Russia and Egypt – two of the world’s worst violators of LGBTQ human rights – are trying to spread their hatred and intolerance and undermine the Olympic spirit,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “This is not just a fight over words on a piece of paper, this is an attempt to spread their anti-LGBTQ views all around the world, and even into the Olympics, which are supposed to be about equality and inclusion. The UN must stop this and stand for inclusion and tolerance.”

Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities arrested at least six men for “promoting sexual deviancy” after waving a rainbow flag at a concert in Cairo. These arrests have led to a crackdown on LGBTQ people in Egypt, with a group of Egyptian lawmakers proposing a broad anti-LGBTQ law last week which criminalizes LGBTQ people and even speech about LGBTQ issues.

In the Russian republic of Chechnya, authorities have rounded up and detained more than 100 men in secret prisons, under suspicion that they are gay or bisexual. Chechen leaders have denied these accusations, going so far as to deny the very existence of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. It is not clear that the Russian government has done anything to stop the violence,  while there have been numerous verified reports of torture and at least three and possibly as many as 20 men have been killed.

The 2016 Games in Rio were noted for being the most LGBTQ-inclusive Olympics in history, with a record number of openly lesbian, gay and bisexual competitors taking part. This was in stark contrast to the 2014 Sochi Olympics held in Russia, where a hateful “anti-propaganda” law targeted Russia’s LGBTQ community and prohibited public support for equality in the country.  

While Egypt rounds up LGBTQ people for flying rainbow flags and Russia turns a blind eye toward Chechnya’s LGBTQ ‘purge,’ they are attempting to bully the UN into supporting their discriminatory actions. The world community must denounce Egypt and Russia for their actions, and not acquiesce to this hatred.

The United Nations is set to vote on the Olympic Truce Resolution in the coming weeks.

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