President Barack Obama

President Obama is under fire from right-wing groups and Republicans in the U.S. for having issued the first-ever government strategy to address LGBT human rights overseas.

On Tuesday, Obama issued a historic memorandum directing all U.S. departments and agencies that engage in foreign affairs to promote LGBT human rights globally.

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world – whether it is passing laws that criminalise LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation,” said Obama.

The memo orders U.S. agencies abroad to combat the criminalisation by foreign governments of LGBT people or conduct and for the Departments of State and Homeland Security to ensure that LGBT refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance.

The U.S. furthermore commits itself to ensuring that it is able to swiftly and meaningfully respond to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBT people abroad and to work with international organisations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.

The memo also orders agencies involved with foreign aid and development to help build respect for the human rights of LGBT people.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry lashed out at Obama’s memorandum, saying that it is “the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country.”

He added: “Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americans of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong. President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles.”

Senator Rick Santorum, another Republican presidential candidate, also slammed the president’s move, accusing him of “promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights”.

“I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda. Obviously the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel it’s their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars,” said Santorum.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBT rights group, applauded the Obama administration’s commitment to LGBT equality around the globe.

“Today’s actions by President Obama make clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye when governments commit or allow abuses to the human rights of LGBT people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

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