News / USA

    Obama Elevates Gay Rights as a Foreign Policy Priority

    President Obama in Kansas, December 6, 2011
    President Obama in Kansas, December 6, 2011

    President Barack Obama on Tuesday issued a directive elevating the the rights and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people abroad as a priority in U.S. foreign policy.

    A memorandum Mr. Obama sent to government agencies directs them to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, or LGBT persons.

    He said he has been "deeply concerned" by violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons.  He cited foreign laws criminalizing LGBT status, the beating of LGBT citizens for joining peaceful celebrations, and the killing of men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation.

    Mr. Obama said America's commitment to advancing human rights for all people is strengthened when it vigorously advances the goal of promoting LGBT rights.  Mr. Obama raised the issue at the United Nations General Assembly in September. "No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also 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," he said.

    Treatment of LGBT people in other countries is already mentioned in annual State Department country human rights assessments.  Mr. Obama's directive elevates the issue's importance as a foreign policy priority.

    In an address in Geneva on Tuesday, where the U.N. Human Rights Council is based, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the importance of defending gay rights.  And she criticized nations that criminalize homosexuality or tolerate abuse of LGBT people. "No practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.  And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing," he said.

    Mr. Obama has directed the State Department and other agencies to fight the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad, protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, and ensure "swift and meaningful" U.S. responses to "serious incidents" that threaten the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people abroad.

    The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force called the administration's decision "the first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating the abuse of LGBT people abroad."

    Darlene Nipper,  the organization's Deputy Executive Director, said "I think it is a fantastic culmination of what is clearly a progressive position on the White House's part to make a clear stance, and to take a leadership role on these issues internationally and worldwide."

    But Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council criticized Mr. Obama's decision, saying it "throws the full weight and reputation of the U.S. behind the promotion overseas of the radical ideology of the sexual revolution." "President Obama is acting as if homosexual conduct has been universally-accepted as a human right, and that is simply not the case.  There is no treaty; there is no universally-accepted international statement, which declares homosexual conduct to be a human right.  So he is really acting on a fiction here," he said.

    Texas Governor and Republican presidential contender Rick Perry called the announcement part of the Obama administration's "war on traditional American values," saying that Mr. Obama had "mistaken America's tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles."

    Mr. Obama's directive on protecting LGBT rights globally will likely bolster the strong support he already enjoys from the LGBT community.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.