News One is reporting that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have issued a stern warning to world leaders about discrimination against gay and lesbian communities. They stated that the U.S. will use foreign assistance as well as diplomacy to back its insistence that gay rights are fully equal to other basic human rights.
The Associated Press reports:
In unusually strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton compared the struggle for gay equality to difficult passages toward women’s rights and racial equality, and she said a country’s cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination.
“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she said. “It should never be a crime to be gay.”
Clinton’s audience included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations where homosexuality is criminalized or where brutality and discrimination against gay people is tolerated or encouraged.
Many of the ambassadors in the audience responded with stony faces and rushed out of the room as soon as Clinton finished speaking.
President Obama has directed the State Department and other agencies to ensure that diplomacy and foreign assistance promote gay rights and fight against discrimination abroad. However, the warning has come under criticism because there are no clear "consequences" for those that fail to do so.
The cynic in us thinks that those in glass houses should not throw stones. To think that the world is not watching how we deal with gay rights in this country, specifically marriage equality, and that it does not influence how others treat gays is pretty naive. Having said that, the optimist in us thinks it is great that the Obama administration is speaking out in defense of gay rights and making sure that ambassadors and other agencies are clear on their responsibility to combat discrimination against gays abroad.
Consequences need to be put in place if it is found that representatives of the United States are not toeing the line abroad. While the level of discrimination against gays in some countries is greater than in the U.S., discrimination is discriminaton, and all of it needs to be eradicated, regardless of location.
Read more at News One.