WASHINGTON – Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined a bicameral group of colleagues in calling on the State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to take urgent action to protect the global LGBTQI population and other vulnerable communities that are being persecuted and discriminated against during the coronavirus pandemic. Many governments are using the public health emergency as an excuse to further marginalize LGBTQI individuals and exclude vulnerable communities from short- and long-term response and recovery planning.
“How our government responds will be seen as a test of our country’s commitment to the protection of human rights and American values of fairness and equality,” the lawmakers write in their letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa. “As members of Congress concerned with the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) individuals abroad, we ask the Administration to take the following steps, on an urgent basis, to reaffirm American support for the protection of human rights worldwide as our country responds to the crisis.”
The lawmakers outline the following actions for the Administration to take to reaffirm American support for the protection of human rights worldwide:
- Intervene at senior levels with governments that are using the COVID-19 crisis to persecute or discriminate against LGBTQI and other marginalized communities.
- Guarantee the inclusion of LGBTQI populations in short- and long-term response and recovery programming and urge international partners to adopt a parallel approach.
- Support measures to ensure safe, healthy, and sustained access to health services, including treatment for HIV and other COVID-exacerbating conditions, as well as other necessary healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive health.
The full text of the letter can be found here.
The letter was also signed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
And in the House of Representatives, also signing the letter are Representatives James P. McGovern (MA-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jim Costa (CA-16), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Ro Khanna CA-17), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Eliot Engel (NY-16), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Darren Soto (FL-09), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), David E. Price (NC-04), David Trone (MD-06), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), William R. Keating (MA-09), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Susan Wild (PA-07), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), André Carson (IN-07), Nita M. Lowey (NY-17), and Juan Vargas (CA-51).