Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asserted America’s commitment to LGBT rights around the world, insisting that these are inalienable human rights.
Speaking in Geneva on Tuesday to mark Human Rights Day, Clinton powerfully made the case for all nations to uphold the rights of gays and lesbians, describing this as “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time”.
Human Rights Day celebrates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the 10th of December in 1948 by the U.N. General Assembly.
“Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she said.
Clinton went on to say: “It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave.
“It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished.
“It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives.”
Clinton also addressed the notion that homosexuality arises from a particular part of the world.
“Some seem to believe it is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbours,” she said.
Clinton announced that the US will be launching a new Global Equality Fund that will support the work of civil society organisations working on these issues around the world.
“In our lifetimes, attitudes toward gay people in many places have been transformed. Many people, including myself, have experienced a deepening of our own convictions on this topic over the years, as we have devoted more thought to it, engaged in dialogues and debates, and established personal and professional relationships with people who are gay,” said Clinton.
“Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honours them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well.”
Clinton’s audience included diplomats from around the world, including those from countries in Africa and the Middle East known for oppressive anti-gay policies or laws.