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Obama directs federal agencies engaged abroad to 'protect the human rights of LGBT persons'

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered the heads of federal agencies engaged abroad 'to protect the human rights" worldwide of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

"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," Obama said in a memorandum released Tuesday morning.

The president directed all federal agencies "engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons."

"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," Obama said.

In recognition of Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday delivered a human rights policy speech at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Clinton's policy speech concentrated on gay rights.

"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," Clinton said. "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."

Among the specifics of Tuesday's announcement:

  • "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."
  • To protect "vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers."
  • "Swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad."

Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights group, immediately praised the president and Clinton.

“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.”

Other gay-rights activists also praised the directive.

“The United States showed extraordinary global leadership today by affirming the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "It is what we would hope for — and expect from — our country."

Said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality:

"Secretary Clinton spoke about LGBT rights at the UN in Geneva and expressed a strong U.S. position in support of respect and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide, making a case that ensuring our human rights is a basic responsibility of the United States and the world."

Here's the president's complete memorandum:

Click here to download

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I agree with Pres. Obama on this one (we do not always agree on policies). If America wants to stand as a symbol for freedom, and also stand against discrimination of all kinds than more and more of our politicians have to take this stance. However, not everyone in U.S. politics can see eye to eye on a subject that is essentially backed by our Constitution.

I think that should start at home, there is a non-discrimination in federal empoymnet for LGBT, however the Health care act does nothing to change the exclusion of helth care relatied items for Transgender, or personnel over the age of 18 who have a sexual ambuiguity that is congenital.

The 2012 FY still excludes and and all related to the BUCKE drop of what the consider Transgendered related care items. Thus costing many T folks a great deal of money and financial hardship.

President Obama has definitely helped get the message out that human dignity is a human right and no boundaries or limits should be placed on supporting human rights for people throughout the world. End all decriminalization, and hypocritical false assumptions and let all people be free.

Yes, with respect, your title is unintentionally misleading as, if I read correctly, the order only applies to federal agencies abroad in relation to what they experience there.

Mr. President, heal thyself. There are MAJOR things you could do for LGBT equality at home WITHOUT Congressional approval from ordering that the federal government not do business with any company that does not have LGBT nondiscrimination policies to ordering the Pentagon to include gay & lesbian service members under the Military Equal Opportunity Program AND extend to gay military couples ALL benefits not banned by DOMA such as access to military family housing AND permit open service by those transgender AND simply, unequivocally endorsing marriage equality.

Thank you.

As a supporter of Pres. Obama, I don't like his point of views on homosexuality.Homosexuality is a sin and that was why God had created Adam and Eve. President Obama needs to focus more on the economy, education and health care systems. No one really cares bout the gay things!

he is way off requesting the majority of people who agree this behavior is abnormal and deviant to accept it and turn one's head from it. no i do not think so.

I'm all for "human rights" but c'mon! This isn't going to help the US economy one bit. We should address this when unemployment is < 5%!!

Cuban Pride is an idiot. Or, to match his grammatical style, He had thought stupid things.

two dudes getting married...that doesn't seem very gay.

As a Gay Cuban-American, I would like to tell you "Cuban Pride", get the hell out of the USA and go back to your third world country: Cuba. Where you will not have any rights at all...

Let's protect the rights of polygamists, the most persecuted and prosecuted religious group in the USA.

"Cuban Pride" is most likely not Cuban, but rather a Cuban hater who likes to direct scorn at Cuban Americans. A Nazi could just as easily have signed his comments under "Jewish Pride" and cited the Old Testament.

Alfonso, are you saying prejudice against gays is not possible in cuban culture? should be more concerned with the substance of cuban pride's comments than with trying to make cubans appear as what they are not

The President doesn't give a crap about the gay/lesbian agenda. He cares about their vote & campaign contributions and support. But mostly just their vote.
He all but said he had no intentions of support the fight for gay marriage in his first election. And he only pushed to repeal 'don't ask don't tell' because it changed little to nothing, but made him look like a hero & appeased his base as well as others foolish enough to believe real change had occurred.

For people who want real change he is merely the lesser of two evils.
***VOTE RON PAUL 2012 for real change.****

they must be delusional and dreaming! in MOSLEM countries being ANYTHING other than their images of either masculinity or femininity equals instant death! same in china.... same is MOST countries on planet earth, the USA will NOT be influencing the rest of the planet ONE BIT, this is political posturing on the behalf of OBAMA, he KNOWS the muslems, arabs, pakistanis, chinese, GERMANS, have NO tolerance for noncomformity of ANY kind..... much less advanced concepts such as tolerance for the different of ANY kind.

death! same in china.... same is MOST countries on planet earth, the USA will NOT be influencing the rest of the planet ONE BIT, this is political posturing on the behalf of OBAMA, he KNOWS the muslems, arabs, pakistanis, chinese, GERMANS, have NO tolerance for noncomformity of ANY kind..... much less advanced concepts such as tolerance for the different of ANY kind.

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/2011/12/president-obama-directs-all-federal-agencies-to-protect-the-human-rights-of-lgbt-persons.html#ixzz1fpTMiGhp

@tad sharpe
"...chinese, GERMANS, have NO tolerance for noncomformity of ANY kind..... much less advanced concepts such as tolerance for the different of ANY kind."

You are right about Arab countries, but completely wrong about Germans, and China is not as bad as you suggest.

Pew Research shows that Germans (and most West European and South American countries) are more tolerant of homosexuality than Americans.
http://www.pewglobal.org/2007/10/04/world-publics-welcome-global-trade-but-not-immigration/4/

As for the mainland China, while they are intolerant of homosexuality, homosexual sex is legal and I have read that there is practically no anti-gay violence (less than in the USA).

Taiwan is quite tolerant of homosexuality.
http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/10246/taiwan_thinks_adultery_should_remain_a_crime/

If Resident Obama is pulling this, another stunt Overseas rather than here after THREE years in office, what kind of crap can we expect from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz???

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