Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday marked the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by giving an astonishingly powerful speech in Geneva.
The speech was before an audience of diplomats, including those from the most homophobic countries, as well as invited LGBT rights defenders from those countries and others.
It was part of a general push from the Obama administration on LGBT rights internationally, announced yesterday.
After speaking of the development of human rights protections in the aftermath of the Second World War, Clinton explained:
I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.
Clinton explained how opponents need to be won over and directly addressed many of them, saying:
Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do.
She spoke about what the State Department is doing to promote LGBT human rights, and what it plans.
Hear the speech:
A backlash has begun with Rick Perry predictably saying that human rights for gay people are ‘not in America’s interests.’
Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda told the BBC:
That fellow [Mr Cameron] said the same thing. Now this woman [Clinton] is interfering.
If the Americans think the can tell us what to do, they can go to hell.
Although the Obama statement does mention using foreign aid as ‘leverage,’ Clinton pointed to using diplomacy and funding grassroots advocates.
Many other countries, such as Germany and The Netherlands, already do this. The UK-based international LGBT rights group The Kaleidoscope Trust has urged the British government to also back practical support, saying:
David Cameron has spoken up in defence of equality for gay and lesbian people at home and abroad, but Britain lags behind when it comes to action and practical support.
Image US State Department