A Welcome Step in Respecting and Protecting LGBT Rights Around the World

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December 8, 2011

A Welcome Step in Respecting and Protecting LGBT Rights Around the World

Amnesty International USA welcomes the Obama Administration’s continued and enhanced commitment to protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and urges swift action to match the Administration’s articulated vision.

On December 6, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech in Geneva, Switzerland, to members of the United Nations. In her remarks, she reminded the international community that human rights apply to all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Amnesty International USA agrees with Secretary Clinton’s unequivocal statement: “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

Amnesty International USA supports the Secretary’s calls for both dialogue and action. Change can only occur through open and honest discussion, and while this is a step that all people can and should take, it is the duty of the government to ensure progress. As Secretary Clinton stated, “progress comes from changes in laws.  In many places…legal protections have preceded, not followed, broader recognition of rights…it is often the case that laws must change before fears about change dissipate.”

In highlighting the Obama Administration’s efforts to protect the rights of LGBT people around the world, Secretary Clinton detailed the actions that the United States has taken to support the rights of LGBT people globally, including the recent release of a Presidential Directive dedicated to combating abuses of LGBT people worldwide, an Administration-wide commitment to working for decriminalization of LGBT identity and conduct, and the creation of the Global Equality Fund to “support the work of civil society organizations working on [LGBT] issues around the world.”

Although AIUSA applauds Secretary Clinton for her ongoing commitment to global LGBT equality and for taking this critical issue to the international community, there is much more still to be done. We urge President Obama and Secretary Clinton to ensure that the United States continues to be a world leader in the fight for LGBT equality by working to ensure full LGBT equality not only globally but also within the United States.

Secretary Clinton’s speech was a critical step in bringing international focus to the fight for LGBT rights and protection.  In recognizing the challenges that lie ahead in the fight for LGBT equality, Secretary Clinton expressed a hope that AIUSA shares: that the global community will rise to meet the challenges and fulfill its commitment to ensuring human rights for all.

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