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Sec. Clinton delivers major LGBT speech
Based on White House press releases, posted Dec. 6, 2011
by Tracy Baim, Windy City Times
2011-12-07

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered possibly the most important international speech ever on LGBT rights, before the United Nations in Geneva Dec. 6. The speech was made in advance of Human Rights Day Dec. 10.

Clinton spoke of the importance of rights for all people, but her focus was on LGBTs, and she went into great detail about the historic importance of equality.

Please click the link for full text of Sec. Clinton's remarks: www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php

Please see the link for video of Sec. Clinton's remarks: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu9DRfFzFsE&feature=related

Clinton also announced that $3 million would be used to start an international fund for work on LGBT issues. The speech was part of a series of steps the Obama White House took this week on LGBT issues. There was a Housing and Urban Development summit on LGBT seniors issues, a U.S. Education Department report on bullying laws and polices across the country, and a major commitment to LGBT issues as part of Obama's foreign policy.

In a memorandum issued at the same time as Clinton's speech, the Obama administration directed all federal agencies engaged abroad to "ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Under the Obama Administration, agencies have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere. And now, following an interagency process coordinated by the National Security Staff, this memorandum directs the first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad.

"Today's memorandum applies to the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID ) , the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate."

The memorandum directs agencies 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.

The White House said that U.S. agencies have already been working to protect and promote the rights of LBGT persons around the world. Since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has directed the Department of State to champion a comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive human-rights agenda.

Clinton's speech was direct and strong, and done in front of a UN that includes member nations with anti-LGBT laws and attitudes. Clinton, when addressing the historic shift on LGBT issues, said she has also developed personally on these issues because of her connection to LGBT people.

Clinton said that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all, and that those who try to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects this.

She said the U.S. has repeatedly grappled with human rights issues, in the Civil War, on women's and workers rights, disability rights, and more.

Speaking to LGBTs in countries where they are persecuted, Clinton said "you are not alone." To the leaders of those countries, she said being a leader means standing up for all citizens, even against the beliefs of the people. Clinton added that laws are what can move society forward.

She also said acting alone, minorities can never achieve the majorities necessary to achieve change, so LGBTs need their allies to work on their behalf. She also pointed to the many LGBTs who have championed LGBT rights over the years, some of them giving their life to the cause.

A senior State Department official, in advance of the speech, said that the administration has "instructed ambassadors to challenge laws that criminalize LGBT status or conduct. We're putting some money into it. We're setting up a global equality fund, $3 million to support NGO activists working on this subject."

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was among many LGBTs applauding the speech.

"The United States showed extraordinary global leadership today by affirming the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world," Carey said. "The presidential memorandum is the first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating the abuse of LGBT people abroad. History is being made, but more importantly, lives will be improved and even saved. We applaud the president for this monumental step forward, and thank Secretary Clinton for taking to the world stage to send the unequivocal message that LGBT people everywhere should be able to live freely and with dignity."

"Today, Secretary Clinton distinguished herself as a legendary champion of rights for all people, including those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "In a remarkable speech to an international audience, the Secretary showed the power of American leadership that calls on the world to live up to the idea that all people are entitled to basic human rights and dignity. There is no question that the administration's record of advancing equality for LGBT people has been enhanced by the leadership of Secretary Clinton."

Solmonese met with Clinton prior to the speech. "When speaking with Secretary Clinton, I thanked her for standing beside LGBT Americans and advancing an American foreign policy that is LGBT-inclusive," he said. "We were able to discuss how much further we have to go—at home and abroad—to secure the rights of LGBT people."

National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce co-founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell were among LGBT Americans invited to witness the groundbreaking speech and to meet with Clinton and UN human rights officials.

"As a member of the Council on Global Equality and the economic advocate for LGBT business owners and employees in the U.S. and abroad, we are honored to have been asked to be part of such an important moment in the lives of LGBT people," said Nelson, NGLCC president. "From the Caribbean to Nigeria to Russia, LGBT people face not only a struggle for civil rights, but a terrifying persecution because they dare to exist. For these people, Sec. Clinton continues to be a beacon of light in a very dark time."

The Department of State issued a fact sheet on LGBT progress made under Clinton since 2009, when she took over the post. It includes a list of "bilateral and regional engagement" in countries such as Uganda and Honduras and the regions of Africa, Europe and Asia; promoting LGBT human rights in multilateral forums such as the UN; protecting LGBT refugees, asylum seekers and migrants; supporting LGBT human rights defenders and civil society groups; championing human rights through public diplomacy; and strengthening the department's personnel and consular policies to be LGBT inclusive.

THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 6, 2011

FACT SHEET: Working to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender ( LGBT ) Persons Globally

"The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights."

--President Obama, Dec. 6, 2011

Since taking office, President Obama has demonstrated that his vision for a brighter future includes greater equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender ( LGBT ) Americans. The President and this Administration are dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging LGBT communities across the country. The Administration's dedication to LGBT rights does not stop at our borders, as the President made clear at the United Nations in September of this year when he said: "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."

Today, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum that directs all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Under the Obama Administration, agencies have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere. And now, following an interagency process coordinated by the National Security Staff, this memorandum directs the first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad. Today's memorandum applies to the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID ) , the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.

The memorandum directs agencies 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.

Even before today's memo, U.S. agencies have been working to protect and promote the rights of LBGT persons around the world. Since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has directed the Department of State to champion a comprehensive human rights agenda—one that includes the protection of LGBT people.

Around the world, the State Department is:

- Engaging bilaterally and regionally in conjunction with U.S. embassies, civil society, and multilateral agencies to encourage countries to repeal or reform laws that criminalize LGBT conduct or status.

- Reinforcing the human rights of LGBT people in multilateral fora, such as the UN Human Rights Council. In June 2011, the United States joined South Africa and a cross-regional group of co-sponsors in passing the first-ever UN Human Rights Council resolution on the human rights of LGBT persons.

- Promoting human rights worldwide. U.S. embassies are declaring the United States' support for the human rights of LGBT people through innovative public diplomacy. Ambassadors and embassies have hosted public discussions and private roundtables, published op-eds and supported Pride events.

- Supporting LGBT human rights defenders and civil society groups, with programmatic and financial assistance, including efforts to document human rights violations; build advocacy skills; provide advocates with legal representation; and, when necessary, relocation support.

- Reporting on the conditions of human rights of LGBT people in each of its annual, country-specific Human Rights Reports.

- Strengthening the Department's personnel and consular policies. The Secretary extended the range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of foreign service staff serving abroad. The United States also incorporated gender identity into federal equal employment opportunity policies in 2010.

- Protecting LGBT refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants through a protection strategy developed with other U.S. Government agencies, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and NGOs.

THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary, For Immediate Release Dec. 6, 2011

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons

The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights. I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world -- whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation. That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, "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." Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere. Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.

By this memorandum I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Specifically, I direct the following actions, consistent with applicable law:

Section 1. Combating Criminalization of LGBT Status or Conduct Abroad. Agencies engaged abroad are directed to strengthen existing efforts to effectively combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBT status or conduct and to expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBT status or conduct.

Sec. 2. Protecting Vulnerable LGBT Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Those LGBT persons who seek refuge from violence and persecution face daunting challenges. In order to improve protection for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBT refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum. In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively address the protection of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the 2 Federal Government has the ability to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.

Sec. 3. Foreign Assistance to Protect Human Rights and Advance Nondiscrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.

Sec. 4. Swift and Meaningful U.S. Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBT Persons Abroad. The Department of State shall lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government's swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBT persons abroad.

Sec. 5. Engaging International Organizations in the Fight Against LGBT Discrimination. Multilateral fora and international organizations are key vehicles to promote respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and to bring global attention to LGBT issues. Building on the State Department's leadership in this area, agencies engaged abroad should strengthen the work they have begun and initiate additional efforts in these multilateral fora and organizations to: counter discrimination on the basis of LGBT status; broaden the number of countries willing to support and defend LGBT issues in the multilateral arena; strengthen the role of civil society advocates on behalf of LGBT issues within and through multilateral fora; and strengthen the policies and programming of multilateral institutions on LGBT issues.

Sec. 6. Reporting on Progress. All agencies engaged abroad shall prepare a report within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, and annually thereafter, on their progress toward advancing these initiatives. All such agencies shall submit their reports to the Department of State, which will compile a report on the Federal Government's progress in advancing these initiatives for transmittal to the President.

Sec. 7. Definitions. ( a ) For the purposes of this memorandum, agencies engaged abroad include the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID ) , the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.

( b ) For the purposes of this memorandum, agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development include the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its 3 departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

# # # #

HRC applauds administration commitment to global LGBT equality

Presidential memorandum gives landmark roadmap to deal with LGBT human rights abuses

Washington - The Human Rights Campaign today applauded the Obama administration's commitment to LGBT equality around the globe as evidenced by a presidential memorandum outlining a robust strategy to deal with human rights abuses of LGBT people. Additionally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to address the issue this afternoon in Geneva as she delivers a speech in recognition of Human Rights Day celebrated on December 10.

"The Obama Administration has made a tremendous difference in the lives of LGBT people in the United States and this new strategy helps to extend that presidential leadership across the globe," said HRC President Joe Solmonese who met with Secretary Clinton earlier today in Geneva. "There is no question that the administration's record of advancing equality for LGBT people has been enhanced by the leadership of Secretary Clinton who consistently underscores the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights."

The presidential memorandum is the first ever U.S. government strategy to deal with human rights abuses against LGBT people abroad. It directs all government agencies that engage in foreign affairs to promote LGBT human rights globally - including decriminalization of LGBT people and humane treatment of LGBT refugees and those seeking asylum, among other things.

"As Americans, we understand that no one should be made a criminal or subject to violence or even death because of who they are, no matter where they live," said Solmonese. "Today's actions by President Obama make clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye when governments commit or allow abuses to the human rights of LGBT people."

In addition to meeting with Secretary Clinton, earlier today Solmonese met with LGBT rights and human rights leaders from across the globe including Alice Nkom, one of Cameroon's only LGBT rights advocates. In her home country Nkom has been has threatened with arrest numerous times because of her ongoing work in defense of LGBT Cameroonians.

"Hearing the stories of international LGBT leaders like Alice Nkom from Cameroon has been inspiring," said Solmonese. "Their day-to-day work advancing LGBT human rights illustrates even more that our nation has a duty speak up for LGBT people around the world."


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