LGBT rights

PD News headlines explore the Olympics Games as a vehicle for public diplomacy. 

American ambassadors abroad tend to be low-profile diplomats who host cocktail parties and try not to make waves in their host countries. Not here. Ambassador Rufus Gifford is an A-list celebrity — and even a reality TV star — in this nation of 5.7 million people. On the streets of the capital, the average person knows his name.

The Olympics brings together athletes from countries with vastly different attitudes and laws for LGBT people. The event has in recent years become a site for diplomacy around global LGBT rights. The increasing number of athletes who are comfortable publicly discussing their sexuality is an indication of how successful that campaign has been.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vows to keep the promotion of LGBT rights abroad as a central plank of Canada’s foreign policy. [...] “It’s not just the head of government, it’s all of our representatives, challenging our representatives to look for ways not just to put pressure on the individual governments, but to be active on social media, to talk to civil society, to get out and engage with the communities in a way that is diplomatically respectful,” Trudeau says.

"Our approach … is to use the ‘soft power’ of business," he says. "These businesses have influence as powerful economic actors and in countries in Africa and Southeast Asia; they are often very important to the local economy. [...] Soft power is one option, but companies could potentially use their economic clout by threatening to pull out of a country. 

No one at the high-level United Nations conference devoted to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 denies serious scientific and financial challenges remain, but cultural sensitivities may prove the toughest stumbling block on the way to achieving that goal.

Advocacy groups in the U.S. and around the world will commemorate the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with a series of ceremonies, marches and other events. Special U.S. Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry is scheduled to speak at a Human Rights First reception at the Rayburn House Office Building on May 17. 

[...] American ambassador to the Dominican Republic in November 2013, Wally Brewster got [...] advice from the Vatican’s envoy [...] “If you keep your private life behind the walls of your embassy, you’ll be O.K. here" [...] He meant that Mr. Brewster, to be an effective diplomat, would be wise to keep his husband, Bob Satawake, out of sight in a country where prejudice against gay people remains widespread.

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