Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the UN Human Rights Commission today in Geneva

In a very eloquent and moving address to the UN Human Rights Council which was meeting in Geneva, Switzerland the American Secretary of State declared: “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”  The Council was meeting in advance of International Human Rights Day which is this Saturday, December 10th.

Earlier today, the White House announced that President Barack Obama had instructed every member of his cabinet and every department of the Federation Government beginning promoting and protecting LGBT people from discrimination. The directive to all government agencies orders them to:

  • 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.

Secretary Clinton’s address to the international body, took that directive to the world stage. Clinton made a number of ground-breaking points:

  1. American foreign aid would in the future, take into account how LGBT people are being treated in country seeking American assistance
  2. American would challenge existing or new efforts in countries that criminalize homosexual acts in the bedroom and mistreatment of  LGBT people in society
  3. Clinton noted that religious beliefs and cultural practices are no longer a viable excuse for tolerating violence and discrimination against LGBT people

The American Secretary of State made the impassioned plea that:

“No practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us, and this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people. 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.”

Clinton did not hesitate to pull her punches and openly criticized those nations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia who have very poor records on the treatment of LGBT people. She  readily acknowledged that America’s own record on LGBT rights was far from perfect and had a long way to go. That said, she derided the idea that human rights for LGBT people was strictly a western phenomena:

“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,” she said. “Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality.”

Watch the entire address below:

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