Hillary Clinton declares 'gay rights are human rights'


Hillary Clinton: "Being gay is not a western invention, it is a human reality"

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The US has publicly declared it will fight discrimination against gays and lesbians abroad by using foreign aid and diplomacy to encourage reform.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience of diplomats in Geneva: "Gay rights are human rights".

A memo from the Obama administration directs US government agencies to consider gay rights when making aid and asylum decisions.

Similar policies already exist for gender equality and ethnic violence.

"It should never be a crime to be gay," Mrs Clinton said at the United Nations in Geneva, adding that a country's cultural or religious traditions was no excuse for discrimination.

Her audience included representatives from countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence.

Many ambassadors rushed out of the room as soon as Mrs Clinton finished speaking, the Associated Press news agency reported.

In October, UK Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestion that aid could be cut to countries that did not recognise gay rights was condemned by several African countries where homosexual acts are banned, including Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Last week Nigeria became the latest African country attempting to tighten homosexuality laws, with the Senate passing a bill banning same-sex marriages. Before it becomes law, it must be passed by the lower chamber and then signed by the president.

'Human reality'

The announcement, described by the White House as the "first US government strategy to combat human rights abuses against gays and lesbians abroad", is also being seen as part of the Obama administration's outreach to gays and lesbians ahead of the 2012 election.

The official memorandum does not outline consequences for countries with poor records on gay rights. But it allows US agencies working abroad to consult with international organisations on discrimination.

"Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world," Mrs Clinton said in Geneva. "Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality."

Correspondents say the new policy could pose awkward questions for US officials formulating policy towards some regular allies and regional powers.

In 2011, the state department's annual human rights report cited abuses against gay people in Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US that bans homosexuality outright.

Afghanistan also prohibits homosexual activity, and the same report found that authorities "sporadically" enforced the prohibition.

In the US, Republican presidential candidates criticised the administration's decision, with Texas Governor Rick Perry saying in a statement that "promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money".

Mrs Clinton acknowledged the US had its own mixed record on gay rights. As late as 2003, some states had laws that made gay sex a crime.

Earlier this year President Barack Obama signed into law a bill repealing the "don't ask don't tell" law and allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the US military.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    144 Barry Hamilton
    I'd like to think that this will help change things within the country as well, but judging by our history I doubt it will. it's a pretty righteous crusade, the sort which can unite a people looking for a distraction from real and fleeting issues on their doorstep

    146 Adrian
    there's no gay people anywhere, just back patting mutual-ist socialites and their band of merry enablers

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    139. The word sodomy describes an act that is linked to AIDS (not exclusively I admit but significantly - it's all about mechanical damage to membranes), which is why I used the word; it is not derogatory unless you consider the act unmentionable or shameful. Cut aid, who suffers? The law of unintended consequence applies here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I think the threat of cutting aid to countries, because they do not have the same rights for homosexuals as the UK, as absolutely despicable.

    By all means give homosexuals equal rights within our borders but do not try to enforce it on other cultures, especially with threats like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    141.Hamed Al Mahruqy
    religious people never learn!!! All the wars that have been started in the name of "God", have resulted in severe suffering for millions and religion is still being used today to judge and persecute people

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Makes me think of the President of Iran saying the there are no gay people in his country. There are, but the consequences of being found out is imprisonment, torture and forced castration. The rise of fundementalist religion particulary in Africa and the Middle East is a real threat to gay people including the death penalty. Its not about forcing western values its about basic human rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    posts: 10./ 3.

    it's a special right when that right is being implemented by another country; the one you're not living in; the one those jurisdiction does not run into yours, and therefore whose righteousness; ideals and mind set literally doesn't enter your own.

    the western world infers and assumes far too much using this "poor them" mindset (which serves as self-importance bolstering)

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I'd like to think that this will help change things within the country as well, but judging by our history I doubt it will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    What she said is true. But there is a knowledge gap here in Africa which is difficult to fill given that there are various social and political entities keenly interested in sustaining the gap. I'm convinced that dynamics of public sexual sensibilities influence politics substantially, and powerful interests that prefer status quo and those who want change are antagonistic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    You put people in prison for practicing the type of marriage they want and like (their right to marry as many as they want) but make laws encouraging others to have abominable sex?

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    The US and its allies never learns! All the wars have been started in the name of "democracy", it resulted into severe suffering for millions and created many enemies, to say the least. Now they wish to interfere in the name of human rights, haven't they got enough enemies. I feel that they intentionally create enemies to justify new wars as if the world does not have enough problems already.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    113. Furthermore, this is not about gay rights, this is about a nation (including anyone who agrees with this position) being prepared to stand by and watching a continent suffer and starve because they hold a different belief. You hate their beliefs so much that you would rather see them die.

  • Comment number 139.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    What's the point of commenting on this on BBC, particularly following the Daily Mail expose of your anti-Christian, pro-homosexual agenda
    (as if we didn't already know that.) The question is, does being anti-homosexuality make me (and billions of others who share my view) "homophobic" and thus against BBC House rules. What a farce!

    a duty to make sure we do not indirectly support evil."

  • Comment number 137.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Fine in principle, but they really should sort out their own country first. The US has some of the worst gay rights issues in the world, and whilst some states are quite progressive, others are worse than some of the countries they are going to blackmail. I certainly would not call the US a 'gay-friendly' country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    113. A bigot is one who is intolerant of the opinions of others. I do not think that I have expressed intolerance of anyone's opinion; merely raised an observation on an ironic set of circumstances. You may feel that it is right to bully African states into submission; I respect your views. You, on the other hand, seem unable to accept a contrary opinion (see line one)

  • Comment number 134.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    From: One and Every Nigerian
    To: All those tying aid to gay right





  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    To all you people posting on here using your religious beliefs and culture to discriminate and persecute gay people I have a question for you. If I said that as part of my belief system and culture I belive that people with non white skin are inferior in all ways and that it doesn`t matter if they are persecuted for being who they are, would that be acceptable?

  • Comment number 131.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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