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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
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Topics In the News
Obama Administration Reports on GLBTQ Rights in the U.S.
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/09/12
Last updated on: 01/09/12
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United States, like other states that have ratified the treaty, is required to submit every five years a report to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights examining the status of human rights in its country. The fourth such report was issued by the Department of State on December 30, 2011. For the first time, the assessment of human rights in the U.S. includes the rights of glbtq citizens.

This new approach reflects the initiatives taken by the Obama Administration on behalf of the premise articulated by Secretary Hillary Clinton in her December 6, 2011 address to the U.N. Council on Human Rights in Geneva: Gay Rights are Human Rights.

As Julie Dorf observes in a blog post at Global Equality Today, the 2011 report is a major departure from previous reports.

The 2006 Bush Administration report attempted to deny the application of the longstanding sexual orientation and gender identity protections under the ICCPR. So striking was the Bush Administration's indifference to the rights of glbtq people that a United Nations expert "expressed his concern that by denying the existence of these rights under the ICCPR, the U.S. government might suggest that persons of diverse sexual orientations and identities are not fully entitled to the rights to life and privacy under the treaty."

The new report, however, fully recognizes these rights. It prominently features sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

The report details recent progress made to advance equal rights, such as the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the passage of hate crimes legislation, the recognition of family relationships by an increasing number of states, and the increased legal recognition of gender identity discrimination in the workplace.

The report also identifies a number of areas in which equal rights have not been achieved, especially those areas in which the Obama Administration has been stymied by Congress, such as the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Equal Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

As Dorf observes, "This new report represents a positive milestone in efforts to ensure that U.S. laws and practices are in keeping not only with international legal norms, but with our country's stated commitment to fairness and equal treatment under the law."

The Fourth Periodic Report of The United States of America to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights Concerning the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights may be found here: ICCPR_Fourth_Periodica Report.pdf.

Hat tip to Nan Hunter at Hunter for Justice.

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