The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued its annual Human Rights and Democracy report today, where a separate section outlines the state of LGBT rights around the world, and the government’s own commitment to it. The corresponding report from the US State Department, however, is three months overdue, and for the third time in a row.
According to the FCO report, which can be accessed by clicking here, the government views anti-LGBT legislations as being “incompatible with international human rights law.” Noting that same-sex relations are criminalised in over 70 countries, homophobic discrimination and violence continues in countries even where protective laws exist.
The report also noted that the US repealed the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for gay people serving in the US military, and added that it had concerns about Russia, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Uganda, echoing sentiments it expressed last year. The report says:
In Russia we have worked with the EU and Council of Europe to lobby the government against introducing a law banning literature promoting homosexuality. In Cameroon we were instrumental in EU efforts to raise human rights concerns with the government, including for minority groups such as LGBT people. In Nigeria we have urged the government not to introduce legislation criminalising same-sex marriage. We are also concerned to see the return in early 2012 of a Private Members Bill which would strengthen the anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda. We have lobbied strongly against the bill and continue to do so. We are working closely with Ugandan civil society groups on this issue, and continue to raise our concerns at the highest levels of the Ugandan government.
Meanwhile, the US equivalent of the report from the State Department has been delayed without notice, and for the third time in a row, according to the blogger Michael Petrelis.
The reports are required, as part of the Foreign Assistance Act, to be produced to the US Congress every year by February 25, and while this happened until 2008, it was delayed by a month in 2009, by two in 2010, and, the one for 2011, due for release three months ago, has yet to surface. The reasons for this are not clear.
However, both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been supportive of LGBT rights abroad. In December of last year, Mrs Clinton devoted the entirety of her speech at the UN summit in Geneva to gay and trans rights, saying it was by no means a “western invention, but a human reality.”