Koenders speaks out against anti-LGBT laws in US

Speaking in Washington on Thursday evening, foreign minister Bert Koenders made forceful criticisms of recent legislation in a number of American states which discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. ‘The Netherlands will always speak out against this type of discrimination, which is prohibited by the international agreements to which the US is party,’ said the minister, speaking at a meeting on LGBT rights. ‘These laws run counter to what we stand for.’ Mr Koenders also made reference to a statement released today by the EU which calls on the states to reconsider this legislation as soon as possible. The statement was a Dutch initiative.

‘The US is one of our most important allies in protecting human rights around the world.’ Mr Koenders went on to say. ‘With that in mind the Netherlands hopes that these laws will be reconsidered as soon as possible.’ Randy Berry, US special envoy for LGBT rights, attended the meeting, which was held at the Dutch embassy in Washington.

The documentary Out and About about parents of LGBT people was screened at the event. Financed in part by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the film was made by Nadja Houben of Human Rights in the Picture and Koen Suidgeest.

Several US states have recently passed legislation that violates the rights of LGBT people. In North Carolina transgender people may not use the toilet of their choice, and in Mississippi companies are allowed to refuse their products and services to LGBTs.

Mr Koenders will remain in Washington on Friday, where he will speak at the German Marshall Fund about the importance of transatlantic relations. The minister’s agenda also includes talks at the World Bank and a meeting with US National Security Adviser Susan Rice.