US Deputy Chief of Mission Courtney Austrian delivers a joint statement on behalf of the US, the UK, and Canada in observance of Pride Month

US Deputy Chief of Mission Courtney Austrian delivers a joint statement on behalf of the US, the UK, and Canada in observance of Pride Month

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada are represented by me when I make this statement.

I want to talk about how tyrants utilize stigmatization to maintain control since it’s Pride Month. This is demonstrated in the stirring poem by Martin Niemoller, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not call out—because I was not a socialist.”

When they came after the trade unionists, I remained silent since I wasn’t one of them. When they came after the Jews, I remained silent since I am not Jewish.

Then they came for me, and nobody was left to speak on my behalf.

This is why it matters that we speak up in the Permanent Council and why it matters that we do so: the dangers don’t simply affect the stigmatized group; they affect a wider range of people.

Unfortunately, there are still far too many areas where LGBTQI+ people’s human rights are under risk or are being deliberately violated. In 70 nations around the world, including two OSCE participating States, being LGBTQI+ or engaging in LGBTQI+ behavior is still illegal.

Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or just gender non-conforming means that in far too many places throughout the world, even the most basic everyday activities, like going to work or the doctor’s office, can result in violence, harassment, and severe social marginalization.

These are violations of human rights, and we are dedicated to achieving human rights for all. Human rights cannot be divided.

All vulnerable groups are less safe whenever one group of individuals is targeted. Additionally, when the rights of one group are upheld, society as a whole can live more freely, securely, and prosperously.

Because of this, defending LGBTQI rights alone at home is insufficient. We must continue to advocate for equal rights worldwide, and we will do so.

As an excuse to promote Russia’s unwarranted and illegitimate war against Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill in Russia cited LGBTQI+ pride parades in Ukraine.

This is concurrent with the LGBTQI+ community’s constant victimization by the Russian government and its use of violence. President Putin began attacking Russian citizens through legislation due of their sexual orientation ten years ago this year.

The prejudice against LGBTQI+ people started in March 2012 in St. Petersburg, and in 2013 it spread to the entire nation.

After the law was passed in 2013, “there has been an upsurge in the frequency of attacks on LGBT people throughout Russia, both by individuals and by organized homophobic groups,” claims Human Rights Watch.

In November 2018, 16 participating States requested the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism to investigate numerous allegations of “serious human rights violations and abuses” allegedly committed in the Russian Federation’s Republic of Chechnya between January 2017 and November 2018 against LGBTQI+ people, human rights defenders, members of the independent media, lawyers, and others.

The Moscow Mechanism’s report from December 2018 concluded that there had been “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions.”

Additionally, the investigation discovered “a atmosphere of impunity” in the area of such infractions and abuses.

Any of the human rights violations mentioned in the Moscow Mechanism report were not looked into by Russia. And alarming reports of additional, heinous abuses and violations of human rights being committed in Chechnya with impunity have continued to surface.

Russia actively works to restrict the human rights of LGBTQI+ people even more, and in April 2022, it disbanded the Russian LGBT Network, the country’s most well-known LGBT group.

The stigmatization of LGBTQI+ people in Russia is spreading to regions of Ukraine that are under Russian control, where local activists claim that LGBTQI+ activists are going missing.

Mr. Chair, as the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals are threatened across the OSCE region this month, we celebrate their tenacity in their struggle for an authentic and free life.

Our conviction that LGBTQI+ rights are human rights is reiterated. We salute the advancements made by participating States in the OSCE region this past year in recognizing the human rights of LGBTQI+ people, dispelling the myth that there is a split between East and West in terms of LGBTQI+ rights.

We are still dedicated to putting an end to violence and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics. We raise our voices because justice and equality make all societies stronger.

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