USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick's Remarks at USAID's LGBTI Pride Month Event


For Immediate Release

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR GLICK: I'm glad to see everybody here today.  Danielle, thank you very much for the introductory comments, and let me particularly welcome former Congressman Jim Kolbe as well as -- I am going to ask you to raise your hands. As well as our friends from the Embassy of Sweden. Wonderful.  Israel -- Israel was not able to make it -- and Botswana. Also, not able to make it.

I'm going to tell you a little bit about Sweden -- we'll start with -- being a great partner for us here at USAID in LGBTI global development partnerships.  It's critical for us to have engagement around the world. And, the Swedes have been tremendous partners with us partnering both with funding, as well as with other resources, to help us promote inclusion and diversity all around the world.  Israel, many of you may know, just hosted the largest gay pride parade in Tel Aviv. The largest one in all of Asia and in the Middle East with two hundred fifty thousand people attending. So, for a country of 8 million people, that's pretty extraordinary, even more so since very few countries in the region are accepting in any way of LGBTI communities.  Botswana, I'm happy to announce, just recently decriminalized homosexuality. And, we're grateful. We're grateful for that very important step, particularly, also, on a continent where that isn't necessarily the most common and forward-leaning activity.

It was suggested that I conduct a moment of silence today for a young foreign service national, Xulhaz Mannan, who served in our mission in Bangladesh until he was brutally murdered several years ago.  Xulhaz was a fierce champion of human rights, who believed with courage and conviction that all people deserve dignity, freedom, and respect. He paid for his advocacy, for his work promoting tolerance and inclusion, with his life.  We've held a number of moments of silence in his memory in the times since then. But, if you will please indulge me, I think I would prefer to honor his service not with silence, but by remembering his great and fundamental human decency.  An example to which we should all aspire. Rather than being quiet for a minute or two, I'd like to repeat as forcefully as I can Administrator Green's call for the authorities in Bangladesh to bring the perpetrators of this horrendous crime to justice.  Because by doing so, they can signal clearly that everyone should have the same rights, freedoms, and protections for which Xulhaz sacrificed his life. It would be a fitting tribute to Xulhaz's memory if the disposition of his case ultimately helped to prevent such violence in the future.  So, we're not going to be quiet. We're going to be loud.

Here at USAID, this annual event serves to remind us that we must live by example ensuring that our programs and our policies are inclusive of all people.  We must strive to include the most marginalized members of society and draw on the skills and contributions of all people in both our workplace and in our programming.  It is the best way that we can fulfill our mission in an increasingly diverse world, and to be proud of that diversity. Our partners, country partners, implementing partners, and the others we work with, like the Swedes, rightly go up to USAID to set a tone of tolerance and inclusion in the development space.  In many parts of the world, areas where we do our work every day, this matter of tone of standards, of expectations for the way we treat other human beings, it's not just an abstract question of social etiquette or the kinds of jokes that people consider it appropriate to tell at cocktail parties. As Xulhaz Mannan's family can tell you, it can be a matter of life and death.  And, even where the stakes aren't quite that high on any given day, still in many parts of the world, intolerance takes the form of genuine persecution and oppression that falls heavily upon its victims.

At USAID, we can not only do better, but we expect better, and we lead the way in doing so.  This group plays an important role in helping make that leadership a tangible reality. I'm also very grateful for the efforts of the people in this room and around the world who champion inclusion and promote acceptance for all.  I hope you are all as proud of your work as I am. I now have the very great honor of introducing Jim Kolbe, though, for many of us, he needs no introduction.

Congressman Jim Kolbe served in the United States House of Representatives, representing Arizona from 1985 to 2007.  While in Congress, he chaired the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.  And, in addition to a service in Congress, he's a proud veteran of the United States Navy, a Senior Transatlantic Fellow for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and he served alongside Administrator Green as Vice Chair of the board of the International Republican Institute.  He has received countless awards, but I suspect the one he might be particularly proud of is the George Marshall award for distinguished service from USAID.

Last updated: June 18, 2019

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