"Some have suggested gay rights and Human Rights are separate. But in fact they are one in the same."
-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted LGBT global inequalities in her speech to the United Nations (UN) today in recognition of Human Rights Day and urged the UN to actively extend the principles laid out in the Declaration of Human Rights to LGBT individuals. She also outlined the United States pledge to fight LGBT inequalities abroad.
The US State Department plans to take the following actions abroad to improve LGBT equality:
1) Launch a global equality fund to support organizations working for LGBT rights abroad
-US Pledges $3 million to start the fund
-Fund will focus on data collection and partnership building (i.e. encouraging LGBT rights organizations to partner with women’s rights organizations)
2) Offering emergency support to “defenders of LGBT rights”
3) Taking into account LGBT identity in cases of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers (Potential implications for transnational couples that include one partner from an anti-LGBT nation)
4) State Department has created an LGBT rights focused task force
5) Creation and distribution of toolkit for embassies of strategies to support LGBT rights in countries where they are stationed
6) Enlisting national organizations to fight against discrimination and abuses against LGBT people
I have very mixed emotions about the speech as a whole. My first reaction was excitement and joy that the US has created action steps to support LGBT activists around the world. That being said, for myself and other LGBT activists around the US the pledge of $3 million to fight LGBT inequality abroad and statements like “The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws but by the treatment they receive everyday from their families, from their neighbors…” within the speech may be difficult to stomach when LGBT Americans still face considerable violence and discrimination at home. Afterall, we still do not have federal protections against housing and employment discrimination, our partners continue to be deported (although the ruling about refugee and asylum status may help) and we do not have federal marriage equality. Upstate New Yorkers can even look to their home state for evidence of violence and discrimination in the deaths of Lateisha Green in Syracuse, NY and Jamie Rodemeyer in Buffalo, NY.
Still, this speech may be a victory abroad and at home. LGBT individuals abroad will hopefully benefit from these announcements and those of us working for LGBT equality nationally will have wonderful sound bites to drawn on when highlighting the importance of recognizing LGBT civil rights as human rights.
What are your thoughts about these announcements?