Heather Nauert
Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and State Department Spokesperson
Residence of the Chilean Ambassador to the United States
Washington, DC
March 26, 2018

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for that warm introduction Boriana. A special thanks to the Embassy of Chile for opening its beautiful Ambassador’s residence to all of us this evening. I would also like to acknowledge all the senior officials who have traveled from their capitals to be here, and all of our civil society partners, whose tireless advocacy continues to inspire us.

It is a real honor and pleasure to be here to represent the United States as we celebrate the Equal Rights Coalition this evening. Deputy Assistant Secretary Busby shared with me how productive your meetings were today, and how the Coalition was strengthened as a result. We appreciate the leadership of the ERC Co-Chairs – Canada and Chile – for spearheading this important initiative. The work of Coalition members and civil society organizations will be critical to ending violence against, and upholding the dignity, of LGBTI people everywhere.

For the United States, protecting and promoting human rights abroad is a core element of our foreign policy. Societies are more secure when they respect individual human rights, democratic institutions, and the rule of law. We are concerned when members of any vulnerable group, including LGBTI persons, are attacked, repressed, or arrested simply for being who they are. We are equally concerned when LGBTI organizations are denied the ability to safely and securely organize events, public demonstrations, and other activities. Such actions undermine universal human rights, including the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

I am proud to work for an Administration that has been vocal in its support for protecting LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination. Whether for Pride Month, Spirit Day, National Coming Out Day, Intersex Awareness Day, or Transgender Day of Remembrance, we have spoken out in strong support of the liberty, dignity, and the human rights of LGBTI persons worldwide. We will continue to do so.

As we approach Pride Month and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia this year, we will again ask our embassies to sponsor events that are appropriate to their country context and organized in close collaboration with local civil society organizations.

Alongside many of the partners assembled here tonight, we are also proud to support the Global Equality Fund, which provides civil society organizations with the resources they need to combat violence and discrimination.

The United States fully supports the efforts of the Equal Rights Coalition to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons around the world. The Coalition provides the primary government-led platform to share information and undertake collective action in response to attacks, violence, and harassment targeting LGBTI persons. With more than 30 government members, the Coalition serves to dispel the notion that defending the universal human rights of LGBTI persons is a “foreign” or “western” venture. Ensuring broad membership of the Coalition increases the number of stakeholders responding to violence targeting LGBTI persons, making it more difficult for such incidents to go unnoticed or unanswered.

Moving forward, we encourage the Coalition to proactively recognize positive steps taken by governments to reduce violence and discrimination targeting LGBTI persons, such as when a government decriminalizes LGBTI status or conduct. Acknowledging such actions raises awareness and encourages other states to take similar action.

At a time when LGBTI persons are under increasing attack, the Coalition is needed now more than ever. Thank you again to Canada and Chile for continuing to provide steady direction and guidance to Coalition members as we all seek to reduce violence and discrimination targeting LGBTI persons.

Dignity and equality for all persons are among the founding constitutional principles of U.S. democracy, and they will continue to drive U.S. diplomacy as well. Thank you for the invitation to join you this evening. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with our ERC friends and partners.

U.S. Department of State

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