of State, Hillary Clinton, has made a landmark speech about global
gay and lesbian equality.
The comments came at
the United Nations summit in Geneva.
Speaking to an audience of diplomats, she declared that the U.S.
will fight discrimination against gays and lesbians abroad by using
foreign aid and diplomacy to encourage reform.
"It should never be a crime to be gay" Clinton said.
"Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the
world. Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human
Clinton's speech was delivered less than an hour after President
Barack Obama issued a directive for administration agencies to
ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and
protect the human rights of LGBT persons.
Many of the peers present at the speech were from countries
which criminalise homsexuality.
The move has been welcomed by a number of equality groups,
including Human Rights First.
"The Obama Administration should be credited for its consistent
advocacy of the simple proposition that human rights apply to all
people, including LGBT people. Secretary Clinton's work to impact
the international community and its inclusion of LGBT rights will
be one of her enduring legacies," said Human Rights First's Paul
LeGendre, who is in Geneva and attended Secretary Clinton's
"She is right: it is time for all nations to implement policies
to protect this vulnerable community from violence and
discrimination. President Obama's directive specifically advances
Though the persecution of LGBT individuals persists in nearly all
corners of the world, LeGendre notes that there is an emerging
international consensus that human rights protections extend to
abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity bias.
In June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council - under
the leadership of South Africa and Brazil and with strong support
from the United States, as well as from countries representing
every U.N. geographical region -- passed the first United Nations
resolution focused on the rights of LGBT people. In addition, it
commissioned a report on the challenges of LGBT people around the
world. The report is to be discussed at the Council in March.
"As the Secretary demonstrated today, the United States has an
important role to play in ensuring the protection of LGBT
individuals around the world," LeGendre observed.
"First, it must continue to lead by example at home and
strengthen its own protections for LGBT Americans. We were
proud to advocate for passage of the Matthew Shepherd bill to
institute hate crime laws, and we continue to work with the
department of justice to ensure they have the mechanisms and the
proper training to enforce these laws. The U.S. must work with
other nations to bring their own laws and policies into compliance
with treaty obligations and international norms."