By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States – December 9 officially marked “International Human Rights Day” throughout the world. Many celebrated by making others aware of current human rights issues. Among these discussions was a speech given by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton supporting gay rights throughout the nation and the world.
Clinton used her platform not to discuss more obvious human rights abuses, but to talk about the “invisible minority” that is the gay community. The speech about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals took place in Geneva. According to the Huffington Post, the speech was far from political, avoiding any praise of the United States; rather, she described the American record as “far from perfect.”
International Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. Generally, the document serves as a reminder that all people are entitled to fundamental human rights and freedoms.
“Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments too,” Clinton said. The Huffington Post reports that she continued on to give examples of countries where men and women can still face death for being gay. She reinforced the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, if not applied equally in all countries, is not “universal” at all.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Clinton used the speech to announce the creation of a Global Equality Fund to assist in obtaining civil rights for gays abroad. The United States has committed about $3 million to the new fund. President Obama issued a memorandum further explaining the purpose of the fund.
According to the New York Times, the fund is in place to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct, abuse gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered people, or ignore abuse against them.
Listeners were impressed and humbled by the speech. A senior State Department official in Geneva said that Clinton “came not to wag a finger, but to really invite a conversation,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
The New York Times reports there are still many countries that use violence against gay individuals. In Turkey, there are still reports of harassment. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is banned and sex between two men or two women is punishable by death or flogging.
Overall, Clinton’s speech was well received by the congregation. The New York Times reports that she received a standing ovation as she left the stage. International Human Rights Day takes place every year on 9 December, encouraging people to be tolerant of other cultures and values, and recognize some of the atrocities ongoing today.
For more information, please visit:
CatholicCulture.org — Promotion of Gay Rights Worldwide is a U.S. Foreign Policy Priority, says Clinton — 9 Dec. 2011
The Huffington Post — It’s Not Gay Rights; It’s Human Rights: Clinton Breakd Down the Wall — 8 Dec. 2011
The Los Angeles Times — Hillary Clinton Calls on World to Not Discriminate Against Gays — 6 Dec. 2011
The New York Times — U.S. Backs Gay Rights Abroad, Obama and Clinton Say — 6 Dec. 2011