Wyden, Merkley Co-Sponsor Legislation to Impose Sanctions on Perpetrators of Global Violence against LGBTI Communities

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley with colleagues reintroduced legislation that would impose sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI individuals abroad. 

“No one should face persecution because of who they love or how they identify,” Wyden said. “America must stand with the global LGBTI community and make it clear that LGBTI rights are human rights.”

Governments around the world are making dangerous threats against our LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors,” said Merkley, who authored and led the introduction of the Equality Act in the U.S. Senate. “We cannot sit idly by while this abuse and discrimination continues. Every person—regardless of who they are or whom they love—has the right to be treated with decency and respect, and to live their life free from fear of discrimination or violence. We can’t give up in our fight to defend that right for those at home in America and for people around the world.”

More than 80 countries criminalize consensual same-sex relations, and about a dozen countries enforce homophobic laws with the death penalty. 

Specifically, the Global Respect Act would: 

  • Require the Executive Branch to biannually send Congress a list of foreign persons responsible for, or complicit in cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of an individual; prolonged detention of an individual without charges or trials; causing the disappearance of an individual by abduction and clandestine detention of an individual; other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of an individual; 
  • Deny or revoke visas to individuals placed on the list, with waivers for national security or to allow attendance at the United Nations; 
  • Require the annual State Department Report on Human Rights to include a section on LGBTI international human rights, as well as an annual report to Congress on the status of the law’s effectiveness; and 
  • Require the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to designate a senior officer responsible for tracking violence, criminalization and restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in foreign countries based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  

The Global Respect Act was led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Along with Wyden and Merkley, the bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Ed Markey, D-Mass., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Full text of the bill is here