Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey on Friday introduced legislation which would make LGBT rights a foreign policy priority for the United States.

Markey, a Democrat, introduced his legislation during a noontime press conference in Boston.

Twenty-four Senators have signed on as co-sponsors to Markey's International Human Rights Defense Act, which if approved would “direct the Department of State to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals [by] establishing a position in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for coordinating that effort.”

“For the United States to hold true to our commitment to defending the human rights of all people around the world, we must stand with the LGBT community in their struggle for recognition and equality everywhere,” Markey said. “The International Human Rights Defense Act will foster a coordinated effort across the federal government and relevant agencies so we can meet the enormous challenge before us and work to ensure equality for all people around the globe.”

According to Markey's office, more than 80 nations have laws that “criminalize homosexuality, prohibit public support for the LGBT community, or promote homophobia.”

Original co-sponsors include Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York, Patty Murray of Washington, Barbara Boxer of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Al Franken of Minnesota, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.