News / USA

US Policy on Gays Draws Strong, Mixed, Reactions

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, December 8, 2011.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, December 8, 2011.

The Obama administration’s announcement that it will combat efforts abroad to criminalize homosexual conduct is drawing criticism from U.S. conservatives, and praise from gay and human rights activists. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the new policy this week at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The United States has long advocated equal rights for gays and lesbians. But the Clinton speech, and a White House directive from President Obama this week, formally declared the fight against discrimination toward homosexuals a U.S. foreign policy priority.

In her address at the U.N. forum in Geneva, Clinton called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)  people an invisible minority whose human rights are denied in many parts of the world.

She said while some suggest that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct, they are in fact one and the same.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," said Clinton. "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. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished.”

Clinton, whose audience included diplomats from a number of countries where homosexuality is outlawed, said she recognized the sensitivity of the issue. But, she said being gay - like being a woman or member of a religious, tribal or ethnic minority - does not make a person less human.

President Obama’s statement said protecting LGBT rights will be a factor in U.S. foreign policy decisions. However, a White House spokeswoman said the administration is not tying U.S. foreign aid to the issue.

The initiative drew wide praise from gay and human rights groups, but instantly became an issue in U.S. presidential politics.

Two Republican candidates, Texas governor Rick Perry and former Senator Rick Santorum, said the policy amounts to promoting a gay agenda.

Conservative television pastor and one-time presidential candidate Pat Robertson said the policy invites the revenge of God.

“Isn’t it appalling that the United States of America would try to force the acceptance of homosexuality on other nations but at the same time we would not force them to take care of their religious minorities, and they would permit discrimination and persecution of Christians? What kind of a country have we got?" asked Robertson.

A conservative advocacy group, the Family Research Council, said no international treaty or agreement has established homosexual conduct as  a human right. It said the Obama administration should step up efforts to defend widely recognized human rights rather than, in the words of a spokesman, appeasing domestic allies by trying to impose an alien ideology on other countries.

Jessica Stern is program director at the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. She says critics of the policy are misinterpreting and distorting the aims of the initiative.

“This is not about so-called lifestyle promotion, but this is a response to on-going and very severe discrimination and violence," said Stern. "And Secretary Clinton promised many examples of the violence that the U.S. government is trying to address in this instance. She talks specifically about people being arrested, people being beaten, and people even being executed on the basis of their real, or perceived, sexual orientation.”

In her Geneva speech, Clinton announced a $3 million program to combat discrimination and violence against gays. The program could include relocation help for refugees fleeing violence or persecution.

Clinton aides say she is pleased with the warm audience response to her speech and that no delegates among the 47 countries represented walked out.

At least one country, Malawi, has said it will review its laws, including a ban on homosexual acts, in the wake of the U.S. message.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs