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

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' 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.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs