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UN Inaugural Review of U.S. Human Rights Record Begins in Geneva

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While America and the LGBT community are preparing to go to the polls tomorrow, the UN Human Rights Council today begins the Ninth Universal Periodic Review of member states’ human rights records in Geneva, including the United States for the first time, who have submitted a first-time report on fairness and equality of LGBT Americans.

The Obama Administration had asked early in its tenure to resume membership of the UN Human Rights Council, as the Bush Administration had withdrawn from the Council because of some controversial states the U.S. government opposed because of their poor human rights records, such as Cuba.  In retrospect, this controversial decision at the time, by the Bush Administration seems quite ironic as we now know that U.S. agents engaged in extensive egregious acts violating individual human rights during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with impunity as President Obama announced his administration would not prosecute U.S. agents who may have been involved in war crimes.  (But I digress.)

As a member of the Council and because of the stature of the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled that the U.S. would submit to a state review by the Council, although the U.S. would be judged by states that include, Angola, Bahrain and Pakistan, to name a few.  The government’s report will be presented by Michael Posner, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,  which includes recommendations and reports submitted by numerous NGOs to the Human Rights Council or directly to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that are intended to improve the human rights of LGBT Americans and could directly challenge assertions contained within a government’s report in some cases.

Contained within the U.S. national report includes a section on “Fairness, equality, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons” which reads:

In each era of our history there tends to be a group whose experience of discrimination illustrates the continuing debate among citizens about how we can build a more fair society.  In this era, one such group is LGBT Americans.

In 2003, reversing a prior decision, the Supreme Court struck down a state criminal law against sodomy, holding that criminalizing consensual private sexual practices between adults violates their rights under the Constitution.  With the recent passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the United States has bolstered its authority to prosecute hate crimes, including those motivated by animus based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Since 1998, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation has been prohibited in federal employment.

Earlier this year, the Administration extended many benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and supports the pending Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, a law that would extend additional benefits currently accorded to married couples to same sex partners. Furthermore, President Obama is committed to the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute, which prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense have testified at congressional hearings in support of its repeal.

The President has also supported passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Debate continues over equal rights to marriage for LGBT Americans at the federal and state levels, and several states have reformed their laws to provide for same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. At the federal level, the President supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.–Section A, para. 2, p.9

The U.S. is scheduled to be the ninth country to present its report, which should happen later this week.  Watch the following UN video on the Universal Periodic Review process and purpose:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=rXhTAfBmhbQ%3Ffs%3D1%26hl%3Den_US

The State Department began the national consultative process in March 2010 with NGOs, educational institutions and national coalitions (also known as “stakeholders”) around the country. Human Rights First, The Council for Global Equality and the National Coalition for LGBT Health and Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, were among the principle advocacy groups who submitted recommendations and comments about LGBT rights in America, to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Council for Global Equality,  a coalition of nineteen advocacy groups in the United States, submitted a ten-page report, recommending that because the U.S. has ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, it should “move with alacrity to provide remedies that address” hate crimes based upon sexual orientation and gender identity must be actively deterred; private and governmental employers in the United States must be prohibited in law from discriminating against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; and LGBT individuals must be allowed to form secure and stable families.  Human Rights First (formerly The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) reported an explicit connection between the same-sex marriage debate and an escalation in the rise of hate crimes against members of the LGBT community describing them as “among the most under recorded and they [are ] also characterized by a high level of violence”.

With respect to LGBT health, sexuality and access to information, the National Coalition for LGBT Health and  Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) submitted their report by addressing sexuality and sexual rights in the United States, as it deals specifically with issues affecting LGBT youth and adults.

For more information on how the NGO consultation process for the UN
Universal Periodic Review is conducted watch this video:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=iELrbViLjdM%3Ffs%3D1%26hl%3Den_US

The U.S. is scheduled to be the ninth country to present its report, which should happen later this week.  Observers representing the NGOs who have submitted reports about LGBT discrimination to the UN are in Geneva to witness the first time the United States’s human rights record has been reviewed by an international process established by the 192 members of the UN General Assembly.  This occasion also marks the first time the United States will speak publicly about the lives of LGBT Americans and the substantial discrimination they face in all facets of life.  While the record is clear that the U.S. government must take steps to adopt extensive anti-discrimination measures, now the world will also know that the U.S. has miles to go to maintain its mantle of freedom and justice for all.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

Tanya will be writing about the international human rights system and how it may or may not include LGBT citizens for the readership of The New Civil Rights Movement during the next two weeks while the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process is underway.

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Trump Jr. Winds Up in Felony Poaching Scandal in Utah After Killing a Bear Baited With Pastries: Report

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Second-generation New York real estate heir Donald Trump, Jr. is caught up in yet another hunting scandal.

Utah hunting guide Wade Lemon is facing five years in prison for baiting a bear that was killed by Trump, Jr. on May 18, 2018, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Saturday.

But the New York developer may not have been familiar enough with western hunting to know about the felony poaching.

“Trump Jr. is not named in a recent filing against Lemon, but the DNR confirmed his identity as the person named in the felony complaint as Lemon’s “client” on the hunt. Prosecutors have indicated there was no evidence showing Trump Jr. would have known about the alleged baiting that went on during the hunt,” the newspaper reported. “Without naming Trump Jr., Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the hunter in the case ‘was actually a victim and a now a possible witness in a fraudulent scheme to lead the hunter to believe it was actually a legitimate Wild West hunting situation.'”

Trump, Jr. posted pictures of his hunting trip to Instagram.

“On Sept. 3, 2020, The Utah Investigative Journalism Project requested files on closed investigations against Wade Lemon Hunting. The DNR provided files on cases dating back to 2009 except for the case on the 2018 Trump Jr. hunt. DNR had decided to reopen that case and denied the records request, stating the release would interfere with the now ‘open’ investigation,” the newspaper reported. “DNR turned the case over to the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Utah Attorney General Reyes has close ties to Trump, having campaigned for him and even flying to Nevada to investigate the election results after Trump’s defeat at the polls and signed on to a lawsuit claiming ‘unlawful election results.’ The Attorney General’s Office reinvestigated the case for months, then handed it off to the Davis County Attorney’s Office to screen for filing of charges.”

Trump, Jr.’s guided hunting trip resulted in kills of a black bear and mountain lion.

“Charging documents allege Lemon’s outfitters illegally used bait on the bear shot by Trump Jr. According to the document, a witness identified Lemon and his employees during the hunt in May 2018 and was able to identify Lemon over radio traffic, giving instructions to his employees,” the newspaper reported. “The illegal bait, ‘a pile of grain, oil and pastries’ was discovered with a trail camera pointed right on it with ‘WLH’ (for Wade Lemon Hunting) written on the side and with Lemon’s own telephone number, according to court documents. The charging documents also include evidence from a subordinate confirming Lemon had him place the bait in the location several weeks before the hunt.”

The guide Trump, Jr. hired for his hunt has been investigated before.

“Hunting guides who cater to the wealthy elite have a lot at stake in ensuring successful hunts. These companies employ hunters to scout woods, deserts, mountains and plains for the biggest game, to ensure these high-profile clients have the highest chance for a successful hunt. According to DNR, Wade Lemon Hunting has been investigated eight times for allegedly breaking the law to ensure a successful hunt, though he was not charged with a felony until Tuesday,” the newspaper explained.

The vast majority of game taken in America is from hunters who do not require a hired guide.

The former president’s eldest son has previously had scandals over killing an elephant in Africa, killing an endangered sheep in Mongolia, and killing pregnant prairie dogs in Montana.

 

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Adam Schiff Prosecutes the Case Against Ginni Thomas on MSNBC After ‘Stunning’ Revelations

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The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee offered a brutal analysis after a bombshell new report on efforts by Ginni Thomas seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

“Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory and choose “a clean slate of Electors,” according to emails obtained by The Washington Post. The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud,” the newspaper reported.

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace interviewed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for analysis.

Schiff, a former federal prosecutor who was the impeachment manager during Trump’s first trial and is a member of the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, was asked by Wallace if the select committee would interview Ginni Thomas.

IN OTHER NEWS: GOP finds new scapegoat for baby formula outrage

“There are several stunning things to me about what is publicly known and has been revealed about Ginni Thomas. Here, she is weighing in with state legislators in Arizona, seeking to get them to essentially send a bogus slate of electors, that didn’t represent who won the popular election in Arizona,” Schiff said.

He referenced legal proceedings over the subpoena of “coup memo” author John Eastman.

“And you know, the judge in California, Judge Carter and the case involving Eastman, this lawyer, describes what the former president was involved in as a criminal conspiracy.”

“That was a conspiracy to interfere with the joint session, to defraud people, and here you have the wife of a Supreme Court justice engaged in a parallel effort to get Arizona to improperly cast aside the votes of millions,” he charged. “And also to add to it, her husband, on the Supreme Court, writing a dissent in a case, arguing providing records to Congress that might have revealed those same emails.”

READ MORE: The Buffalo shooter had a toothache — an extremism expert explains the bizarre reason it matters

“That conflict of interest just screams at you,” Schiff said.

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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‘Fear-Driven Alliance’: Conservative Explains Why Far-Right CPAC ‘Opportunists’ and ‘Paranoids’ Are Meeting in Hungary

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The rise of authoritarianism and fascism growing within the Republican Party was discussed by the opening panel on MSNBC’s “The Reidout” on Friday.

Host Joy Reid noted how the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is being held in Hungary this year, which is ruled by strongman Viktor Orbán.

“They have elections, of a sort, but also hamper voters’ abilities to make informed choices and heavily control the outcome that the elections are essentially a show,” she explained. “These are the autocratic dreams of a far-right leader obsessed with solidifying a Christian monoculture and who, in 2014, declared his intention to build an illiberal new state citing China, Russia and Turkey as role models. Flash forward to today where CPAC, the once conservative gathering that is now simply a cesspool of the far-right running amok, is holding its conference in Budapest.”

For analysis, Reid interviewed conservative writer Tom Nichols.

Nichols warned “there is a nihilistic, fear-driven alliance here with a group of opportunists, and I want to get back to this issue of about Hungary, the really dangerous thing here is that some of these people believe very deeply in — in some of this stuff and yet others, and I would say people like [Tucker] Carlson and Matt Schlapp and some of the other people capering about in Budapest, don’t believe in any of this and don’t believe in anything of this other than the extension of their own personal power and wealth.

“And when you have this coalition of shallow, empty opportunists along with with a group of paranoids, basically, then you have a really dangerous movement because each side has to keep upping the ante to kind of justify why they are doing the things they are doing,” he explained.

“A lot of this is an act, but the problem is you then paint yourself into a corner… You have to start actually trying to put forward policies and carry things out that, that make you look as if you believe the things that you’re doing. And then after a while, whether it’s an act or its opportunism is no longer relevant: You have become the thing you’ve been prancing about and pretending to be,” he explained.

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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