February 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
HRC joins global LGBT rights initiative

Certi Diritti, gay news, Washington Blade

Supporters of Certi Diritti, an Italian LGBT advocacy group, take part in a protest in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in Italy. The Human Rights Campaign on Feb. 19, 2015, announced it has joined a global LGBT rights initiative the State Department launched in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Yuri Guaiana/Certi Diritti)

The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday announced it has joined a U.S. initiative that seeks to promote LGBT rights around the world.

The organization will join the Arcus and John D. Evans Foundations, the Norwegian LGBT Organization, the MAC AIDS Fund, Deloitte, the Royal Bank of Canada and Out Leadership that already support the Global Equality Fund, which the State Department launched in 2011.

The initiative has given more than $17 million to LGBT advocacy groups in more than 50 countries.

Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are among the countries that support the Global Equality Fund, which the State Department manages with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Thomas Shannon, counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry, in November during a D.C. conference that sought to bolster funding of LGBT advocacy efforts around the world announced that Chile had joined the Global Equality Fund.

Thursday’s announcement comes two weeks after Kerry announced the State Department will appoint a gay special envoy to promote global LGBT rights.

“We look forward to working closely with the Global Equality Fund and the incoming special envoy for LGBT human rights to champion the fundamental human rights of LGBT people around the world,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement.

Anti-LGBT rights abuses persist despite progress on marriage, adoption

Consensual same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in more than 70 countries.

Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan are among the nations in which those found guilty of homosexuality face the death penalty. Videos and pictures that have emerged from Syria and Iraq in recent weeks appear to show Islamic State militants executing men for what the Daily Mail newspaper described as “being gay.”

Gays and lesbians are able to legally marry in Canada, Brazil, Iceland, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand and more than a dozen other countries.

The Chilean government this week is expected to end its opposition to gay nuptials in a same-sex marriage lawsuit that is currently before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Colombia’s highest court on Wednesday ruled gays and lesbians can adopt their partner’s biological children.

Mexico City lawmakers in November approved a bill that allows transgender people to legally change their gender without a court order.

Life expectancy of trans people in Americas between 30-35 years

Discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression remain pervasive throughout the world in spite of recent pro-LGBT advances.

The Obama administration in December dropped Gambia from a duty-free trade program amid growing concerns over the country’s LGBT crackdown and other human rights abuses. These include a law that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh signed last fall under which those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” face life in prison.

An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report indicates anti-LGBT violence claimed the lives of nearly 600 people in the Western Hemisphere between Jan. 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014. It also concluded the average life expectancy of trans people in the Americas is between 30-35 years.

“Around the world too many LGBT persons and their advocates are targeted and harassed for who they are and the beliefs they hold,” Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski in a press release that announced HRC had joined the Global Equality Fund. “This new partnership will enable us to support more people in more places and I look forward to working with them to further expand this unique fund.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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