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JUNE 2015



The progress of LGBT rights in Europe and the

Americas has elicited a backlash in other parts of the

world. Strong U.S. leadership can help reverse this

alarming trend and mitigate the threat of

widespread violence.


Richmond Blake serves as a special assistant in the Office

of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democ-

racy and Human Rights. In 2013, he received the State

Department’s Human Rights and Democracy Achieve-

ment Award for his work as a political officer in La

Paz. The master’s thesis he co-authored, “Protecting Vulnerable LGBT

Populations: An Opportunity for U.S. Global Leadership,” was awarded

Harvard University’s top prize for graduate-level research in the field of

human rights in 2011.


he violent extremist group that

calls itself the Islamic State recently

released a series of videos in which

black-hooded men are seen push-

ing victims from the top of high-rise

buildings. The clips depict people

gathering below to watch the victims,

accused of being gay, fall to their

deaths before maiming their corpses.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community

is not only under violent attack from this barbaric violent

extremist group, but from various hate groups, vigilantes and

governments around the world. Human rights organizations

report that so far this year, scores of LGBT persons have been

murdered or imprisoned simply because of who they are and

whom they love. More than 75 countries outlaw homosexuality,

and in at least seven of them, the penalty is death.

The social and political success of the LGBT movement,

notably in Europe and the Americas, has elicited a strong

backlash in other parts of the world. A Pew Research Center survey reports that in many African and Middle Eastern cou


tries, more than nine in 10 people say they do not accept LGBT

people as part of their society.

Eager to win votes or to distract from corruption or other

government failings, politicians often play to this popular

homophobic and transphobic sentiment. This strategy has

resulted in draconian new anti-LGBT laws and frequent arrests

around the world, and it exacerbates a cultural climate that not

Promoting an


Human Rights