Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks on LGBT Human Rights
On Tuesday, just moments after the Presidential Memorandum was released, Secretary Clinton delivered a speech in Geneva in recognition of Human Rights Day. In her speech, Secretary Clinton passionately articulated the importance of defending the human rights of LGBT people everywhere, reiterating that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
In calling for global action on LGBT human rights, Secretary Clinton described the human rights violations that LGBT people currently face:
It is 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. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgender women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.
Secretary Clinton also described some of the critical efforts already underway at the State Department and announced a new Global Equality Fund to support the work of civil society organizations working on LGBT human rights issues around the world.
In closing her remarks, Secretary Clinton reiterated the Obama Administration’s commitment to LGBT human rights and put that commitment in the context of America’s ongoing march towards equality and justice for all people:
And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.
There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: “Be on the right side of history.” The story of the United States is the story of a nation that has repeatedly grappled with intolerance and inequality. We fought a brutal civil war over slavery. People from coast to coast joined in campaigns to recognize the rights of women, indigenous peoples, racial minorities, children, people with disabilities, immigrants, workers, and on and on. And the march toward equality and justice has continued. Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well.
For more information:
- Watch the video of Secretary Clinton’s address
- Secretary Clinton’s Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day
- Factsheet: The Department of State’s Accomplishments Promoting the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
- Reflections on Secretary Clinton’s Remarks by Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor