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 190.

    Nonsense it is nation's own choice. Let's put it this way if China becomes dominant should they use their power to bully for their social attitudes to be considered 'normal' and end human so called rights? Sauce for the goose now will be sauce for the gander later.

    There are lots of human inclinations we restrain from acting out. They vary by time and place.

  • Comment number 189.

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

  • Comment number 188.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Start with the crusades and work forward, don`t stop at the imposition of Islam or the imposition of Christanity, spains slaughter of the Aztecz or Hitlers persecution of the Jews, or the genoicide in Rawanda, just keep going. By the way, having read some of your posts I would rather you didn`t flag me again

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    America has done what she wants in the U.S. As Egypt's people had a religion and ethics and traditions, the people of Egypt, his doctrine and methodology of Islamic defines his life and his behavior within the community, We do not need to custodians of us, but if America wants it seriously allow them to migrate America to engage in homosexuality and prostitution away from our country

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    I find it incredible that the US gets on its high horse and makes such a statement. I agree that being gay is not a choice. it's just part of who you are. However, the US has such conflicting and contrasting gay rights policies that it strikes me as hypocritical to dictate to other countries how they should act. Everyone should be free to live as who they are without fear of repression

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    I appreciate people's rights to believe what they want. However, I do think if a country gives aid to another that it is their right to stipulate the conditions of the aid. To the US, no matter how flawed their implementation of it is, gay rights are considered as a human right. So in turn it is quite logical that it be used as a marker for aid just like, you would hope, any other human right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Firstly, human rights are rendered valid just because a liberal socialist regime decides, or when Mrs. Clinton thinks so. Human right is universal to man and woman, gay right is not universal, but a choice. It is known that individuals have changed their minds not to be gay anymore and without losing or growing a human part.

  • Comment number 182.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    160. Don

    implying the western world doesn't act at all tyrannical in a different and collective brow-beating sense.

    170. Portman

    i think the issue you think you've concluded all on your own is literally exactly what that news story was cast for in the first place. news is a funny thing when used to drive a people behind bad ideas.

    177. OBIDOMBIE
    thank you for being real

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    While it's true that at the present time same sex couples may only be married in six of the fifty states (and recognized in several more), this should not deter the US government from raising their voice and drawing attention to the serious humanitarian crisis in countries such as Uganda. This is NOT apples to apples.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Barry 153. Being gay does not cause AIDS anymore than mosquitos cause malaria (Plasmodium genus bacteria do). The mosquito is a vector of transmission. Female to male sexual transmission is relatively rare compared to male to female transmission and, the most prevalent, male to male transmission. Don't forget 30 years ago it was known as the Gay Plague before the term became unfashionable

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    btw, when can we expect Hillary's speech on human rights in Afghanistan, where the US-backed government considers coversion to any religion other than Islam a crime punishable by death and converts who are detected are imprisioned, tortured and sexually abused, sometimes for years?
    It would be more reassuring in the Obama admin. (and the BBC) cared about the Human Rights of all, not just some.

  • Comment number 177.

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

  • Comment number 176.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    So a country where institutional racism continues to thrive; where people without insurance are not allowed the right to life; where torture is permitted, weapons are sold to dictators, and bombs are dropped on countries for anything but defensive reasons, is concerned about the gay rights issue. Certainly it is a human right: But it cannot be policed by the world's greatest violator of rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Homosexual sex is a moral offence for those with a moral conscience, it should never be a criminal offence in a secular society. However, the US has no grounds, given its past record, to comment on either as it is both morally dissolute and (often) criminally culpable in its dealings with other countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    The number of religious nut jobs, fascists and hate peddlers on here is unbelievable. Reading some of the posts is like stepping back in time 5 or 6 hundred years. Almost all of these vile posts are quoting culture and/or religious beliefs, both are bogus and just rationalisation for bigotry. I don`t want my taxes funding overseas aid in countries who hold these views

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    I am all for gay rights but coming from America !!! America ought to take a long hard look at the religious right out there who seem dead agaisnt any progression with equal rights. Religion has cause so much misery in the world . However if America is looking to other countries for equal rights of gays then all they have to do is to cut Aid until they comform. Simple isn't it !

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Trouble is some of closest allies to the US would have nothing to do with human rights, read Saudi, Gulf states in general, Pakistan, China etc. I know the US is not going to go without oil for the sake of ensuring human rights, but it would be good if they kept on about it, if only to make those countries feel guilty and the populance realise their governments are lacking.


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