Statement Regarding U.S. President Barack Obama's Memo and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Address

Media Advisory

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) notes with pleasure the U.S. Presidential Memorandum regarding "International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons" as well as the accompanying speech by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Geneva today.

Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director, said,

"The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has called upon the US government to integrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights into its foreign policy for many years, and so we are deeply gratified by today's historic development. Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Clinton, we now see a strategic approach to LGBT human rights and the most affirming LGBT rights foreign policy in the nation's history.

The 'Presidential Memorandum' and speech by Secretary Clinton make clear that LGBT rights are not a mere afterthought but a carefully considered component of US foreign policy. Because of the distinct needs of LGBT people globally, such a nuanced approach is crucial.

Significantly, neither the Presidential Memo nor Secretary Clinton's speech said that LGBT rights would become a condition for foreign assistance. Their message, initially misinterpreted in online discussions and by the media, stated clearly that, 'agencies involved with foreign aid…shall enhance their ongoing efforts to…build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons' (emphasis added). To be clear, there were no indications of tying aid to conditions or of cutting aid.

However, the work is not yet done. In her address, Secretary Clinton issued a simple but profound statement, 'Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.' We hope these words will ring loud and clear in towns and cities across the United States and villages and communities around the world."