On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. will use all the tools of diplomacy, including foreign aid, to promote LGBT rights around the world.
In a memorandum by President Obama and speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the administration vowed to combat efforts by nations that criminalize homosexual conduct, abuse people who identify as LGBT, or ignore abuse against them.
“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct,” Mrs. Clinton said to the U.N. Human Rights Council, “but in fact they are one and the same.”
The administration’s announcement could bolster support among gay voters and donors, who have questioned the President’s commitment to their cause. In the past, the President pushed for repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and his Justice Department has said it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
The initiative invites attacks from Republicans trying to appeal to a conservative base. One Republican candidate for President, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, said, “President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”
Sec. Clinton anticipated the sensitivity of the issue for some conservative countries, saying that “the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights” of LGBT people “rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural and religious beliefs.” She argued that gay rights transcended national, political and cultural boundaries, casting them as universal rights like those adopted in the aftermath of World War II in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides worried about the reaction of some countries at the Human Rights Council, so that they did not advertise the theme of her remarks before she delivered them. In the end, no one left the chamber, and the audience gave her a standing ovation.
On Tuesday, Sec. Clinton announced a $3 million program to finance gay-rights organizations to combat discrimination, violence and other abuses. An administration official said that the money could be used to finance a lawyers’ group that is defending gays. It could also provide relocation aid to refugees fleeing persecution.
Via The New York Times.