Africa reacts to Obama's pro-gay rights foreign policy

Published: December 8, 2011

The enshrinement of equal rights for homosexuals into US foreign policy activities has drawn quick ire from African nations, with one senior figure saying the notion is “abhorrent” across the continent.

President Obama has instructed officials across government to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons” around the world.

Under the move, legal, moral, and financial support will be boosted for gay rights organizations, emergency assistance will be sent to groups or individuals facing threats, and asylum in the US will be offered to people forced to flee homophobic persecution in their countries, Mr. Obama said.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the new focus in a speech marking international human rights day in Geneva Tuesday night.

Calling discrimination of homosexual and transgender people “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time,” Secretary Clinton said “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

“It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave,” she said. “It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished.”

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