Video Remarks to the Equal Rights Coalition Global Conference

John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
Vancouver, Canada
August 6, 2018

Excellencies, friends, and colleagues: I regret that I'm unable to join you today in beautiful Vancouver for such an important meeting. Although I can't be there in person, I'm honored to be able to address you through this message on behalf of the United States.

Two years ago in Montevideo, our countries committed to advancing human rights and to supporting inclusive development for all persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics. We agreed to translate from ambition to action the principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that human rights are universal and that LGBTI persons are entitled to the same dignity, rights, and freedoms as everyone else.

In just two years, our Equal Rights Coalition has made significant strides. The Coalition has been on the leading edge of the international community's response to human rights violations and abuses such as those committed in Chechnya and elsewhere around the world. Together, we have encouraged countries to repeal laws criminalizing LGBTI status or conduct. Coalition members around the world are working with civil society partners to maximize our support for brave human rights defenders on the frontlines fighting for progress in the world's most challenging environments. This progress has been possible not only thanks to Canada and Chile’s steady leadership as co-chairs, but also due to the energy and commitment of all coalition members, civil society organizations, and diplomatic partners. We are grateful for your tireless efforts at shaping a shared agenda.

Despite this progress ,we understand that much work remains to make good on the promise of our coalition. The United States looks forward to exploring in concrete terms what we can do together to address criminalization of LGBTI status or conduct and the serious levels of violence and discrimination targeting LGBTI persons. We are eager to discuss ways that the coalition can support and recognize governments and civil society activists who are pressing for positive reforms. We encourage discussion on how the coalition can work collectively in global and regional fora and how we can better coordinate donor assistance.

This coalition, like our societies, is strengthened by our diversity. As Deputy Secretary of State, I have sought to strengthen and advance this issue not only overseas but also within the United States government. I've learned that accounting for diversity strengthens our own resolve and enables us to learn about innovative approaches that benefit all. Respectful dialogue yields positive outcomes. We value your active engagement, unique perspectives, and diverse views. Our collective success depends on it.

I'm proud that our delegation from the United States includes senior representatives from the Department of State, Department of Justice, and USAID. We are striving to do better by sharing our own challenges, particularly in addressing bias-motivated violence targeting the LGBTI community and ensuring Development Assistance is truly inclusive.

Addressing the threats and unique human rights challenges of LGBTI persons will require our unflagging vigilance. As our coalition works to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, the United States will remain a steadfast partner. We encourage a frank and honest exchange of views in the coming days and continued collaboration with our coalition partners to ensure that no one is left behind. Thank you.