Obama, Clinton Dedicate Their Human Rights Day Message to Gay Struggle Worldwide

COMMENTARY | U.S. gay rights organizations hailed the statements of President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in support of gay rights worldwide, but an international gay rights activist said the U.S. should first put its house in order before condemning other countries.

On Tuesday, the White House issued a presidential memorandum asking the State Department, USAID and other agencies to ensure that U.S. programs promote and protect the human rights of gay people. In her speech at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Clinton emphasized that the fair and equal treatment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people should be part of the global human rights agenda.

“Obama and Clinton will have more credibility and authority if they now act swiftly to end homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence in the U.S. – and give LGBT Americans full legal protection and redress,” Peter Tatchell, International gay rights campaigner and director of Peter Tatchell Foundation, told this scribe from London Tuesday evening.

“Before condemning other countries, the U.S. should first get its own house in order,” Tatchell added.

Only few states in the U.S. recognize same-sex marriages as Christian ideologies on man-and-woman marriage hold sway in small town America and conservative “red” states.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in a statement released from Washington that Clinton placed a spotlight squarely on the difficult and dehumanizing realities smothering LGBT people and their families in many parts of the globe, which includes being sentenced to death simply for loving a person of the same gender.

“Many people around the world still look to the United States to stand for what’s right and just, for what’s fair and humane, for what bonds us rather than divides us. The president’s memorandum and Secretary Clinton’s historic words today demonstrate bold leadership and give hope to LGBT people everywhere,” Carey said.

Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of the advocate for Informed Choice, a Sonoma, Calif.-based organization welcomed President Obmama’s Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons:

The AIC is a member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association based in Brussels, and serves the intersex community – that is, those who are born with chromosomes, genitals, or internal sex organs that are different from what is usually expected for males or females.

“While intersex is not the same as LGBT, intersex people also face widespread oppression and human rights violations around the globe. These violations include discrimination, denial of marriage rights, violence, forced sterilization, unethical medical experimentation, and nonconsensual genital surgery. Often, the oppression of intersex people is motivated by homophobia and transphobia,” Tamar-Mattis said.

Tamar-Mattis added though the President’s memorandum did not specifically mention the intersex community, the Obama administration has demonstrated a real commitment to recognizing intersex people’s rights. “In particular, we have seen action on issues relating to international treatment of intersex refugees and asylum seekers, domestic employment discrimination, treatment of intersex prisoners, and gender documentation. We welcome today’s memorandum as an important step in securing human rights for all people.”

Tatchell, a fiery activist who has ambushed the likes of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf and has braved thugs beatings in Moscow for gay rights, conceded that Obama’s Presidential Memorandum and Clinton’s UN speech are truly ground-breaking, historic declarations for LGBT human rights worldwide.

“However, the true test will be the extent to which these laudable intentions are given practical effect. Fine words are commendable but persecuted LGBT people need action,” Tatchell concluded.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *