Washington – The release of the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) makes clear that this trade pact does nothing to address the state-sponsored persecution of LGBT people in countries such as Brunei and Malaysia, while making the global fight against HIV/AIDS more challenging.
The Obama Administration has called the protection of LGBT people around the world a foreign policy objective. For example, while serving as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term, Hillary Clinton said, “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” In 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry similarly stated, “LGBT rights are human rights, and human rights are LGBT rights.” Yet the new “side letters” to the TPP text for Brunei and Malaysia do not include any language requiring these countries to end their persecution of LGBT individuals.
In response, Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis said:
“Now it’s official: the TPP fails the test for important LGBT concerns. It is troubling that the United States would bring countries such as Brunei and Malaysia, with their state-sponsored persecution of LGBT individuals, into the fold of the TPP. But it is unconscionable that our nation would not use the leverage of the TPP negotiations to insist that these nations make improvements on ending LGBT persecution and discrimination.
Instead of living up to its stated goal to improve the rights and protections of LGBT people throughout the world, the Obama Administration is instead offering an implicit ‘okay’ to the LGBT status quo in Brunei and Malaysia.”
Meanwhile, the release of the full TPP text makes clear that the TPP would harm access to live-saving HIV/AIDS medications by extending patents on certain biologically derived drugs. In some poorer countries, like Vietnam, studies have shown that nearly 70% of those receiving HIV/AIDS medications could lose access if the TPP goes into effect.
“Worldwide progress in containing and fighting back against the HIV/AIDS pandemic means access to affordable drugs. Unfortunately, the TPP harms that effort and would reduce access to live-saving medications.”
Additional Background Information
In addition to the new release of the TPP text, “side letters” to the official text are now viewable (addressing relevant, country-by-country issues that are not addressed specifically in the official text). The side letter regarding Brunei has no mention of LGBT or gender issues in the most relevant, “Employment Discrimination” section:
“Brunei shall amend relevant sections of the Employment Order to prohibit discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, including on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, political opinion and national extraction.”
Meanwhile, the “Employment Discrimination” section of the Malaysia side letter similarly ignores LGBT issues and only calls on the nation to “remove the prohibitions on employment of women in certain occupations.”
For more information on the state-sponsored persecution of LGBT individuals in Brunei and Malaysia read these resources:
Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization and an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations.) We organize mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community for social and economic justice. In addition to national Pride at Work, more than 20 Chapters organize at the state and local level around the country.