World Affairs Council of Seattle will Host Forum on Gay Rights as Human Rights

World Affairs Council of Seattle will Host Forum on Gay Rights as Human Rights

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World Affairs Council Event Poster May 2012

Following President Obama’s public endorsement of same-sex marriage, Seattle is getting ready to host a forum to discuss whether gay rights are human rights.

The World Affairs Council of Seattle will present Jessica Stern, Program Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and Dr. Kapya Kaoma, Project Director at Political Research Associates, on May 15 from 6 – 8:30pm at Seattle’s Center for Spiritual Living.

The forum comes just one week after President Obama stated his support of same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News.

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” President Obama said.

Stern and Dr. Kaoma will make the case that issues like same-sex marriage are really human rights issues, echoing remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her remarks in recognition of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 6, 2011.

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct, but in fact they are one and the same,” Secretary Clinton said.

Tuesday’s event will also feature a Q&A session moderated by The Seattle Lesbian Co-Editor Charlene Strong, where attendees can ask the speakers questions. Strong was appointed as Washington State’s Human Rights Commissioner by Governor Christine Gregoire in 2007, and her work on marriage equality with the Washington State legislature is chronicled in her award-winning documentary for my wife…

Strong will offer a local perspective to gay rights issues, while connecting the importance of Jessica Stern and Dr. Kapya Kaoma’s work on a global scale.  Stern has replaced Cary Alan Johnson who was initially scheduled to speak at the forum.  Johnson has resigned for personal reasons.  He was the Executive Director of the IGLHRC. 

In Argentina and South Africa, gay rights are legally protected. Other countries, such as Uganda, do not have such protections in place, and LGBT people can face anything from imprisonment to death.

Jessica Stern is the Program Director of the IGLHRC.  She has campaigned extensively for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and economic justice with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Control Ciudadano, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and the Urban Justice Center. She holds a master’s degree in human rights from the London School of Economics. She is a member of the board of directors of Queers for Economic Justice and an advisor to the New York Women’s Foundation.  

Dr. Kapya John Kaoma is currently the Rector of Christ Church, Hyde Park, MA and a Visiting Researcher at Boston University Center for Global Christianity and Mission. Dr. Kaoma produced a report entitled “Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia” that prompted invitations to testify before the United States Congress and the United Nations.

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