Feb 9, 2015
"We will stand up for LGBTQ rights!" CWA President Larry Cohen promised Creating Change 2015, the largest annual gathering of activists, organizers and leaders in the LGBTQ movement. And that means fighting the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The United States is currently negotiating a trade deal with countries "where LGBTQ people have no rights," he explained to the crowd in Denver. "A deal with Brunei that just last year, in the midst of these negotiations, adopted a so-called law that said that those who are in love with somebody of the same sex will be stoned to death. Stoned to death."
In Malaysia, another member of the 12 nation trade talks, sodomy is banned and homosexual acts involving men or women is punishable by 20 years in prison.
Are these the kinds of countries we want to call partners?
Despite vocal opposition from LGBTQ rights groups, trade negotiators still haven't confronted these barbaric laws. Led by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), 119 members of Congress called on Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to stop any further TPP talks with Brunei until its government addresses its human rights violations. Yet the United States continues to participate in trade negotiations, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, multinational corporations and Wall Street lobbyists work to write in new powers for themselves.
"We've had enough of trade deals that destroy our cities, destroy our jobs, destroy our lives, destroy our pay, destroy our standard of living," Cohen said.
He reminded activists that we can still put the brakes on this disastrous agreement. He urged them to call and write their lawmakers to tell them to vote "no" on "fast track" authority, a bill that would speed the TPP and all other trade deals through Congress without any opportunities for debate or amendments. That would put the power back into the people's hands so we can finally have a voice.
Cohen said, "Our main job is to get every member of Congress who says they're for human rights to say no to fast track, to say we want to read this, to say no more deals with countries where there's no human rights. And to say loud and clear: We know what we do when we're under attack. We stand up, we fight back!"