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White House seeks to further gay rights through foreign policy


The White House announced further efforts Tuesday to consider the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in its foreign policy decision-making.

In a memo released today, President Obama directed all "agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons." In short, it means the U.S. will now evaluate how countries treat its LGBT citizens in its foreign policy.

In the memo, the president refers to his speech at the United Nations earlier this year where he said, "No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere."

And in an effort to highlight this move, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a human rights policy speech in Geneva, Switzerland in honor of Human Rights Day. "Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," said the secretary. 

The White House outlines several steps agencies will take in protecting LGBT rights abroad:

  • Combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad. 
  • Protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. 
  • Leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination. 
  • Ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad. 
  • Engage International Organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.
  • Report on progress.