White House memo directs all U.S. diplomatic agencies to
“promote and protect the human rights of all LGBT persons”
Secretary Clinton cites importance of LGBT rights in global response to HIV/AIDS epidemic
NEW YORK, December 8, 2011—President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping declaration of rights for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people around the world, announcing that all U.S. diplomatic agencies must promote and protect the human rights of all LGBT people.
Secretary Clinton spoke at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the White House issued a memo directing “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.”
In her speech, Secretary Clinton recognized the intrinsic rights of all people and stressed how homophobia and discrimination have affected the lives and well-being of LGBT people everywhere, particularly in countries most hostile to them. The Secretary also cited the impact of discrimination against men who have sex with men (MSM) and LGBT people as an impediment to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“This is an important step forward in American leadership in the area of human rights and global health,” said Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. “We know that MSM, gay men, and transgender people are at much higher risk of acquiring HIV, particularly in countries that criminalize their behavior. We can’t end the AIDS epidemic without doing a better job of addressing the health and rights of LGBT and MSM people. We hope these new guidelines will strongly encourage governments to treat their LGBT citizens with respect and afford them equal status in law and society.”
“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have now forcefully recognized how discrimination undermines our international assistance efforts,” said amfAR Vice President and Director of Public Policy Chris Collins. “Now we need to work with governments, NGOs, and community-based groups to change discriminatory laws, promote tolerance, and stress the importance of human rights in our battle against HIV/AIDS.”
amfAR has long highlighted the link between human rights abuses and the AIDS epidemic, particularly concerning MSM and LGBT people. In 2007 the Foundation started the MSM Initiative, which works with grassroots groups to advance HIV prevention, education, and outreach efforts targeting MSM in countries where same-sex sexual behavior is often criminalized or highly stigmatized.
On Thursday, December 15, amfAR’s Public Policy Office will release a report providing new, in-depth analysis of HIV-related financing and programming for MSM worldwide.