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Kerry: 'I'm Working Hard to ... Have Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Ambassadors'

7:31 AM, Jun 23, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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In spite of the progress noted by Kerry, some members of GLIFAA expressed concern about the direction of their cause, saying that in some ways, they are "feeling even more squeezed" as more countries prohibit issuing visas to same-sex partners.  One member said he had to cross off sixty-eight percent of the jobs on his bid list because of the visa issue and wanted to know what the State Department might do to address this obstacle. Kerry assured his listeners that "we are instructing embassies to inform governments locally that this is our policy and that they need to honor our policy. It’s that simple."

Another member zeroed in on problems faced by the transgendered around the world, saying that they "are denied documents that reflect the gender in which they live their daily lives" and that "too often they feel forced into sex work" because of their limited options. Kerry responded:

...We have instructed our posts to report on and perform outreach to transgender communities in countries. In addition, we have instructed our human rights and health officers to raise transgender issues in their host countries, and we have encouraged our public affairs officers to include the needs of transgender groups in their programming, so that we are showing that this is something that we’re going to engage in...

Kerry said that while the State Department hoped to handle "real trouble spots" on the transgendered issue with "reasonable conversation and an understanding," it may be necessary to "isolate those people for those policies" as the U.S. considers "what the options are with respect to actions that we’ll take."

Back in December 2011 in Geneva, Hillary Clinton gave a speech to the Human Rights Council where she said, "[G]ay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights." Kerry said that he was "proud to follow in the footsteps of an extraordinary advocate for the cause" and updated Clinton's words:

[S]tanding here with [moderator Robyn McCutcheon], I want to build on that legacy, because LGBT rights are human rights, and human rights are LGBT rights.

The State Department is not by any means the only agency celebrating LGBT Pride Month as proclaimed by President Obama. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence posted a celebration message on its website and tweeted a number of items on Twitter, including a photo of Kristin Beck, a transgendered former Navy Seal who took part in intelligence community celebrations of LGBT Pride Month.

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