U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, on Monday "attended an event put together by the Council for Global Equality to discuss the deteriorating human rights landscape for LGBT individuals in Russia."
Here are her prepared remarks from the conference:
For many years, I have been a staunch advocate of human rights both at home and around the world.
I strongly believe that every person deserves to live a life that is free from persecution and harassment and I am committed to guaranteeing the full enjoyment of universal rights for all members of the LGBT community.
Unfortunately, the situation in Russia for the LGBT community has been rapidly deteriorating.
It is regrettable and shameful that the Russian government has adopted laws that restrict free speech and free association of LGBT individuals, and threaten the removal of children from their rightful, loving homes.
The actions of an increasingly hostile Russian government takes the country far backwards in time, just as much of the world is moving forward towards tolerance and equality.
I condemn these actions and call on the Russian government to promote tolerance and non-discrimination, and to uphold their constitutional and international rights commitments.
No government ought to be able to dictate who we love, and no government ought to be able to use children as pawns to punish those that are different.
I am also very concerned about what this means for American citizens that attend the Olympic Games in Sochi next year.
Will our amazing Olympic athletes, coaches and support staff, and fans be subject to these abhorrent laws and face inhumane treatment as they represent their country and express their God-given individuality?
Because of these concerns, I joined a letter this summer to Secretary Kerry asking the State Department to use all the tools at their disposal to pressure the Russian government to reverse course, and to do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of US citizens at the Sochi Games.
I am also now circulating a letter I wrote with my colleague, Rep. Takano, to the US Olympic Committee asking them to explain what steps they are taking to ensure the safety and well-being of athletes who travel to the Olympic Games.
I will continue to raise the alarm about Russia’s rapidly declining human rights record, and I am committed to supporting LGBT individuals under siege in that country.
I strongly support the ability of all citizens to exercise their civil and political rights, and condemn measures that would create an environment of intolerance or discrimination in any form.
Through the combined efforts of organizations like The Council for Global Equality and all of you here today, I hope that we can stem the tide of bigotry in Russia and elsewhere, and spread respect for the rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.