Name Instructor Class 17 November 2012 The Historical Speech that Supports Gay Rights as Human Rights: Clinton’s 2011 UN Speech On Thursday, Dec 6, 2011, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a momentous speech in Geneva, Switzerland, a speech that marks the celebration of International Human Rights Day…
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The reason that the speech is given is because of the celebration of International Human Rights Day. The framework of International Human Rights establishes the basic rights of all people, whatever their race, age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, and physical and mental characteristics are. These rights erase the perceived physical and social differences among people and assert that all people are equal because they are all people. Several actions on the part of the U.S. administration preceded the speech and set its content and tone. President Obama has provided specific directives to U.S. government agencies regarding the administration’s support for gay rights and their protection from sexuality prejudice and discrimination. His administration passed key federal legislation and policies that supported the welfare of the LGBT people. He signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which broadened federal hate crime law to integrate crimes that have been influenced by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. This law embodies “the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation's history” (Tobias). Obama also repealed “Don't Ask/Don't Tell” that affected Army personnel. As for LGBT policies, Obama reversed the U.S. refusal to sign the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Tobias). Furthermore, he extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and added more benefits in 2010 (Tobias). Clinton, through her speech, aligns the international public image of the U.S. from one that is against broader gay rights to one that treats gay rights as human rights too. To understand the history of Clinton’s speech, it came after widespread changes in the policies and climate toward the LGBT community in the world and in the U.S. The 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna was the initial “coming out” party for governments (Sanders). Five countries stepped out to openly support gay and lesbian rights Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands (Sanders). In 2003, Brazil proposed a “resolution in the UN Commission on Human Rights supporting equal rights” (Sanders). Twenty-seven countries acted as co-sponsors, but the strong opposition from several Black African and Muslim states prodded the resolution to postponement, and then death (Sanders). Brazil continued to apply a comprehensive national policy, “Brazil without Homophobia” (Sanders). A number of Western European countries supported gay marriage and equal gay rights, specifically Netherlands and Sweden. South Africa, which once opposed gay rights, now wants to be a leader in the region of the LGBT community (Sanders). The federal and several state governments in the U.S. are showing increasing support in responding to the issues of the LGBT population. The U.S. government expands support for LGBT rights under Obama’s presidency. Before Clinton’s speech, the White House Press Office released a statement announcing that President Barack Obama signed a memorandum directing the State Department to become the leader of an interagency group that will provide a “swift and meaningful response” from the U.S. government to “serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBT persons abroad” (Keen). The memorandum depicts the intense support of Obama
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