Hillary Clinton declares 'gay rights are human rights'


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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    It means little - apparently similar policy already exists for gender discrimination yet only this week the Afghans released a woman imprisoned for being raped (!) on the condition that she marries her rapist - that is a country not only receiving billions of our money but the lives of our soldiers too. I want to know why we should give our money to countries that practice vile bigotry?

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Homosexuals and Transsexuals deserve equal right and treatment. Alternative lifestyles must receive international respect and dignity. American repression and paranoia should not influence world culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    164. Barry Hamilton

    implying the country as a whole practices said persecution and not those in power

    why would they want our money? what is the need for some greasy paper white people care about so much?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.


    You ask the UK and US to leave you alone. But this is exactly what Clinton IS doing. She's leaving you entirely alone. I hope Cameron will do the same. I do not want my money going to a government that promotes violence against homosexual people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    With Europe on the verge of an economic collapse, and the USA not far behind, you'd imagine that Clinton would have more pressing concerns than the Gay lobby. The sooner the USA gets rid of her and Obama and their idiotic liberal agenda the better for everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Oh dear, the US meddling in the affairs of others and blackmailing countries into 'seeing things their way' because the West is always right - where have we seen that before, I wonder!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.


    International aid is a special right, not gay rights. Sorry but there's no more money for countries who practice persecution. Maybe we've finally learned our lesson from propping up all those dictatorships in the 70s and 80s. Why would they want our money anyway? Some of it does come from homosexuals after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    I approve of the US making it clear that they consider discrimination & violence against alternative sexualties as going against human rights, but they really do need to practice what they preach.

    Perhaps that's what this is, something to get US citizens to understand it's a Bad Thing to persecute homosexuals, before they start putting their own house in order? Or am I being idealistic? :P

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    @cjd1071 It is possible to follow your non-american same-sex partner to the US for the period of a fixed term contract using the B-2 visitor visa (http://travel.state.gov/visa/laws/telegrams/telegrams_1414.html).

    But there is no way as an American citizen to take in your same-sex partner. They need to be able to qualify in their own right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    @155 I think Africa has done enough to promote the spread of HIV/AIDS on it's own. As for homosexuals being the spreaders of the virus, it may interest you to know that (in Scotland at least), there is a higher number of new cases in the heterosexual community. As for the bible/koran - they are books - nothing more. I read Harry Potter myself, far more believable

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    157. Meatjustice - appalling that you would be indifferent to suffering of humanity just because they live in another country than your own. Such indifference gives rise to tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    I understand feelings that the West should not meddle in different cultures, and I agree that every country should "get its own house in order". However, criminalisation of homosexuals is a human rights issue. As a taxpayer in a western country, my money funds international aid. As a bi/homosexual taxpayer, I should not be required to fund countries that would otherwise have me jailed or killed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    People are people - we are all human beings and we come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours, beliefs and personalities ... Live and let live - nobody has the right to discriminate against someone for being different. I am proud to live in a nation that is accepting - power to Mrs Clinton's message! Discrimination has no place in a modern World.... Shame on the countries that do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    151. Don
    appalling that you think we should have a say on what is socially acceptable in other societies.

    154. Persona_Non_Grata
    you forget who are the world police super moral enforcer supermen mega champ freedom fighters

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.


    as different as race is to sexuality, surely you are not suggesting they are equivalent

  • Comment number 155.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Do nations have the right to decide their own laws, follow their own culture and customs, determine the direction of their own societies or are these things that they need to US to dictate for them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    149. Jeremy

    Being gay doesn't cause AIDS. We've known that for decades. So why bring it up at all? It would be better to champion the use of condoms which is the best way to prevent HIV transmission for everyone, gay or straight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    Politians do not really care about this thorny issue of gay or lesbian rights. The issue had since been politicised. Gay rights are now only advocated to win elections or boost egos and popularities, where Politians are failing in their responsibilities to the people. Have we ever seen any married politician, being bold enough to travel round the world, with a same sex partner as wife of husband?

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I believe the US, UK and others nations have a moral obligation to ensure gay people are not subjected to discrimination, torture or worse. I just wish the governments of these nations were more consistent with championing human rights in general, i.e, the woman in Afghanistan that was raped and then imprisoned for adultery and given a choice of staying in jail or marrying her attacker. Appalling.


Page 11 of 19


More US & Canada stories



  • VigoroAnyone for Vigoro?

    The bizarre Edwardian attempt to merge tennis and cricket

  • ScissorsTwo more years

    How the UK's life expectancy changes without Scotland

  • Payton McKinnonLeft behind

    Why do so many children die in hot cars?

  • Dr Mahinder Watsa Dr Sex

    The wisecracking 90-year-old whose agony column is a cult hit

  • White Rhino, KenyaSky rangers

    How drones may be used to fight wildlife poaching in Africa

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.