“As Secretary, I have worked with my superb team on advancing human rights in a 21st century landscape, focusing on new frontiers even as we stand up against age-old abuses. Where women have been and continue to be marginalized, we’re helping them become full partners in their governments and economies. Where LGBT people are mistreated and discriminated against, we’re working to bring them into full participation in their societies. We’re expanding access to technology and defending internet freedom because people deserve the same rights online as off. And we know that in the 21st century human rights are not only a question of civil and political liberties, it’s about the fundamental question of whether people everywhere have the chance to make the most of their God-given potential”.
– Secretary Hillary Clinton on the Release of the 2011 Human Rights Report
The US State Department has just released its 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which documents the status of human rights in countries around the world. The report, as stated by the US Department, serves to inform U.S. government policymaking and serve as a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, scholars, interested citizens, and journalists. The report also contains a section on Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in India.
Assistant Secretary Posner wrote the following in the introduction to the report:
In many countries there was an uptick in discrimination against members of racial and ethnic minorities; people with disabilities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) people, all of whom were frequent targets of abuse, discrimination, and violence. In some countries medical personnel were harassed, intimidated, and arrested. …
This year’s reports highlight the treatment of marginalized people, including LGBT people and people with disabilities. Too many countries still criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, and LGBT people face discrimination and violence in many more countries. …
As President Obama has said, societies change from within. Civil society organizations lead that change by engaging citizens in conversations about how people want to be governed. These organizations spotlight human rights abuses, fight discrimination, and monitor whether authorities are upholding the rule of law. They speak out against the exclusion, persecution, or hatred of vulnerable minorities, and document where their societies fall short. By holding up a mirror to society, they ask their governments and their citizens to do better and to be better. In all of these ways, civil society groups are the lifeblood of free and open societies, and they are most vital in countries where democratic traditions and institutions are just beginning to take root.