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White House issues presidential memorandum and Secretary Clinton makes historic speech on the human rights of LGBT people worldwide

December 6, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a human rights speech at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Task Force joins with its international partner, the Council for Global Equality, in applauding President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their outspoken commitment to ending abuses and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. The White House today issued a presidential memorandum directing all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT people.

Shortly afterward, Clinton made a historic human rights speech commemorating International Human Rights Day delivered at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The secretary made it clear that the fair and equal treatment of LGBT people worldwide is a moral imperative, and a priority and legitimate concern in U.S. foreign policy. She called upon all governments to respect the human rights of their LGBT citizens. You can watch the video of the speech here.

Statement by Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

The United States showed extraordinary global leadership today by affirming the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world. It is what we would hope for — and expect from — our country.

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.

She spoke of how our common humanity should know no borders, but that in reality it does, often with harsh — even deadly — consequences for LGBT people. She placed a spotlight squarely on the difficult and dehumanizing realities smothering LGBT people and their families in many parts of the globe. This includes rampant government-sanctioned discrimination, widespread invisibility stoked by fear, and even being sentenced to death simply for loving a person of the same gender.

Secretary Clinton made it clear that the fair and equal treatment of LGBT people worldwide is a moral imperative, and a priority and legitimate concern in U.S. foreign policy.

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.

We thank the Obama administration, and honor the true heroes of this global effort — the LGBT people, activists and allies who literally risk their lives every single day so that we all can be free to live and love.

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