NEW YORK — US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power led a delegation of fellow diplomats to hold a meeting at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York on Thursday.
The group comprised members of the "LGBT Core Group" at the UN — a collection of 18 countries that work on LGBT issues at the global body.
"We couldn't think of a more symbolic place a few days after the monstrous attack in Orlando than this one," Power said. "I think as we grieve with the families of those who were taken in such a horrifying way Saturday night, and as we stand in solidarity with the LGBTI community here in the United States, we're also really motivated as a group because all around the world, on any given day, there are people who don't know that day will be their last."
The attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando prompted the UN Security Council to condemn the killing of people for their sexual orientation for the first time.
Tree Sequoia, a bartender at the Inn who's been a constant presence there for the last 46 years, gave the diplomats a quick overview of the history of the bar and the night of the famous riots that share the bar's name. "We were having the time of our life," he said with a smile, telling the attentive gathering of the stand-off between Sequoia and his friends and the police.
"We lit every garbage can in the area near the building and threw them in the windows. That was when the riot police came because you're not allowed to burn down a bar with the police still in it," he said wryly, enjoying the laughs that came in response.
Sequoia told the diplomats that he and his friends there that night didn't think much of the riot that resulted in the bar being closed down. The next year the first Gay Pride parade marched past the Stonewall Inn much to the surprise of Sequoia and Stonewall patrons.
Power told Sequoia that the Core Group is "trying together to show unity and to ensure there are far fewer no-go zones for LGBTI people around the world and far fewer that are punctured like the Pulse was."
Outside the bar, where the ambassadors assembled to snap a picture before the meeting began upstairs, French ambassador François Delattre promised, "My country was quite courageous in promoting gay marriage. Now we want as France, the country of human rights, to stand and the forefront of international efforts to fully recognize the rights of LGBTI persons."
The Core Group is currently pushing at the UN Human Rights Council to establish a new role devoted to investigating human rights abuses against LGBT individuals around the world.