Obama directs agencies to contest anti-gay governmental policies around the world

by on December 6, 2011  •  In Criminal law

President Obama issued a memorandum on Tuesday "directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons." Specific steps included fighting criminalization and discrimination, aiding victims of persecution seeking asylum, and "swift and meaningful" responses to human rights abuses of lgbt persons.

The memorandum was announced simultaneously with a pretty amazing speech in Geneva by Secretary Clinton. (See companion post above.)  Indeed, as has happened before, the White House memorandum in effect applied to the rest of the Executive Branch the pro-lgbt policies that the State Department has already adopted.  From the NY Times:

The administration’s announcement formalizes several steps that Mrs. Clinton has already ordered. She has asked American diplomats to raise the issue wherever harassment or abuse arises and required a record of them in the State Department’s annual report on human rights. On Tuesday, she also announced a $3 million program to finance gay-rights organizations to combat discrimination, violence and other abuses.

A senior administration official said that the money could be used, for example, to finance a lawyers’ group that is defending gays or to pay for the training of journalists who cover the persecution of gays. It could also provide relocation aid to refugees fleeing violence or persecution.

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting L.G.B.T. persons around the world,” Mr. Obama said in the memorandum, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,  “whether it is passing laws that criminalize L.G.B.T. status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful L.G.B.T. pride celebrations, or killing men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”

He said in the memorandum that the State Department would lead other federal agencies [in these efforts]. The administration’s directive, months in the planning, came after a series of legal steps taken against gay men and lesbians in countries like Uganda, where the Parliament reopened debate on legislation that would outlaw homosexuality and possibly make it punishable by death…


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