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WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks on global human rights at a full Committee hearing:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  And I want to commend our colleague Mr. Cicilline of Rhode Island for his eloquent statement.  And I’m glad the Committee is focusing on threats to human rights around the world, and how it ties in with America’s security and interests.

“I know our witnesses are about to speak.  I want to welcome you personally to the Foreign Affairs Committee.  The Committee has considered a wide range of human rights issues that affect every region in the world.  And we’ve dealt with abuse of civil and political rights as well as rights to life and personal safety.  And so I want to then welcome you.

“We’ve seen a troubling trend in recent years.  According to Freedom House, we’re in the tenth consecutive year of declining freedom around the world and 72 countries were on a downward trajectory last year versus just 43 that made gains when it comes to human rights. 

“And you know, I’m told that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee as we speak is holding a hearing about legislation that we believe would permit discrimination against LGBT Americans.  So it’s just always a fight.

“And with respect to those rights, LGBT rights, we’ve seen a particularly disturbing trend of laws that criminalize same-sex activity and other repressive political policies aimed at the LGBT community.  We see this in places like Russia, Brunei, and Uganda.  And when you see LGBT rights under assault, it’s a pretty good predictor that governments are cracking down on human rights and civil society more generally.

“And nowhere have we seen more horrific treatment of LGBT persons than in areas controlled by ISIS.  Gay men have been publicly executed in just horrific ways. And when we see these kinds of abuses, we have an obligation to act.  Basic rights and human dignity are at the core of American values.  No person should endure violence or discrimination just because of where they live, how they worship, or who they love.

“And beyond the moral imperative of advancing human rights, we have a security interest in these issues.  It’s been a month today since the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  This was an ISIS-inspired hate crime.  And when messages of hatred and bigotry are allowed to thrive, it creates a risk to us right here at home.

“So, I’m glad and I commend the Chairman that the Committee is taking up this issue.  I’m grateful to our witnesses and I look forward to their testimony. And again, I want to thank Mr. Cicilline.  And I want to just single out one of the witnesses Mark Bromley who will talk to us about the violence and persecution facing the LGBT communities around the world.  I thank all of our four distinguished witnesses and I yield back the balance of my time.”