The United State Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James W. Brewster along with his husband Mr. Bob Satawake hosted a breakfast in honor of LGBT Pride month. Over 100 attendees participated in the breakfast including: LGBT advocates, local LGBT community allies, business leaders, and representatives from the Dominican Government and Diplomatic Corp. The keynote address was given by the U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, Randy Berry. Other special guests included Dennis and Judy Shepard (parents of Mathew Shepard) and Deena Fidas, Director of the Workplace Equality Program in the NGO Human Rights Campaign, and winners of an embassy sponsored social media contest designed to promote equality.
The U.S. Embassy has planned a number of events in the month of June to commemorate LGBT Pride Month, including:
From June 9 to 11 the U.S. Embassy has invited a guest speaker from the civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Deena A. Fidas, Director of the Workplace Equality Program, to hold a series of discussions in Santo Domingo and Santiago surrounding equality in the workplace, including one held on Wednesday June 10 at UNAPEC. HRC is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for the LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community in the United States. Fidas advocates for equality in the workplace and monitors corporate alliances in many Fortune 1000 companies, prestigious law firms and other businesses through consulting, training, evaluation of corporate social responsibility programs, fundraising and communication strategies.
In addition, today, from 4:00pm-7:00pm the Embassy is hosting a public screening of the documentary: Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine at the UASD Law Faculty auditorium. Judy Shepard will engage with participants in a Q&A session after the screening. Judy Shepard is the President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Her son, Mathew Shepard was killed in October 1998, in what later became one of the most high profile hate crime cases against LGBT people in the United States. In 2007, as a result of Matthew Shepard’s murder the United States Congress approved a bill called “Matthew Shepard Act” which expanded federal law on hate crimes to include sexual orientation. During their time in the Dominican Republic, Dennis and Judy Shepard will also meet with government officials and local LGBT activist in order to raise awareness of hate crimes and promote a culture of tolerance and respect for LGBT individuals in the country.
This year’s LGBT Pride month events aim to highlight the USG’s ongoing support for the protection and promotion of inclusive human rights for the LGBT community worldwide. In support for the Month’s celebration, President Obama stated, “All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.”