ADDED ON: 04/02/2022

Congress Splits Over How to Address LGBT Rights in China

4/1/22 | Foreign Policy

A major annual congressional report documenting human rights abuses in China was delayed for six months after a behind-the-scenes impasse between Democratic and Republican lawmakers over a section on LGBTQ rights, according to congressional aides and a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) issued its annual report for 2021 on Thursday, outlining in detail over 334 pages human rights abuses and rule of law violations in China. The report covered a wide span of issues, including crackdowns on freedom of expression and religious practice, human trafficking, and genocide and crimes against humanity against ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. The report is considered one of the most comprehensive overviews from the U.S. government of the human rights situation in China, and it is the basis for U.S. policy and legislation on how Washington works to hold Beijing to account on human rights. The latest report was meant to be released in October 2021, according to congressional aides and one U.S. official familiar with the matter, but its release was delayed in large part because of internal disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over how the final report should characterize China’s repression of LGBTQ rights. The lawmakers chairing the commission, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley and Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, wanted to include a new separate section of the report focused solely on documented human rights abuses against China’s LGBTQ community and policy recommendations on how the United States should respond. Previous CECC reports had included reporting on this matter, but only under a broader section on Chinese civil society. The CECC, staffed by a small group of nonpartisan experts and researchers, had recommended to the lawmakers that they include a separate section on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Republican commissioners opposed the plan to change the format of the report and include a new section focused solely on the LGBTQ community, the congressional aides and the official familiar with the matter said. They argued that those repressions didn’t amount to the severity of other human rights abuses, including Beijing’s documented practice of forced abortions and forced sterilization, and the broader campaign of genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang province.

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