Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Clinton prioritises LGBT rights in Africa

Hillary Rodham Clinton, January 2007Image via Wikipedia

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience of LGBT State Department workers that she is working to end discrimination against gays and lesbians at home and abroad.

Clinton said, “We reaffirm our commitment to protect and advance the rights of all human beings, of members of the LGBT community around the world.”
“Men and women are harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love,” she added. “Some are driven from their homes or countries, and many who become refugees confront new threats in their countries of asylum. In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence; in others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors.

“These dangers are not “gay” issues. This is a human rights issue.”

Of particular note, Clinton said that she has asked every embassy in  in Africa to report on rights of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The State Department is also providing emergency aid  to human rights activists who are persecuted because they work on LGBT or AIDS issues or are LGBT themselves; working to provide protection for refugees; and ensure that gays have access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs.

She said that foreign service employees also make it a practice to visibly support gay rights in countries such as Albania and Slovakia.

Clinton also called for extra vigilence and care at home.

“I think that each and every one of you not only professionally,from every bureau and every embassy and every part of our government, have to do what you can to create a safe space, but also personally  really look for those who might need a helping hand - particularly young people, who still, today, have such a difficult time and who still, in numbers far beyond what should ever happen, take their own lives rather than live that life.

“So I would ask you to please think of ways you can be there for everyone who is making this journey to defend not only human rights globally, but to truly defend themselves and their rights.”

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