Addressing international diplomats in Geneva today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likened gay rights to women’s rights and the struggle for racial equality. While she recognized that the U.S.’s own track record with gay rights is “far from perfect,” Clinton criticized nations that criminalize gay behavior or that tolerate violence or prejudice against the LGBT community, noting that it should “never be a crime” to be gay.
“Gay rights are human rights,” she told those gathered, “and human rights are gay rights.” Clinton also drove home the existence of gay individuals across various communities, countries, and social classes:
Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes, and whether we know it or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends and our neighbors.
“Some believe homosexuality is a Western phenomenon,” she added, “but gay people belong to every society in the world. Being gay is not a Western invention, it is a human reality.”
Clinton also announced the creation of a $3 million global equality fund focused on worldwide LGBT issues.
GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry has voiced his opposition for the Obama Administration’s move, calling it part of the ongoing “war on traditional American values.”
“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries,” said Perry, “is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money,” adding that “President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”
Watch Hillary Clinton’s full speech below:
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