By Ambassador (Ret.) Michael Guest, Sr. Advisor, Council for Global Equality. This commentary is cross posted at Advocate.com. For more analysis of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts on LGBT human rights visit Global Equality Today.
Secretary Clinton’s December 6 Geneva speech on LGBT rights is another high-water mark in the Obama Administration’s integration of the human and civil rights of LGBT people into U.S. foreign policy.
Clinton spoke to a diplomatic audience, one that included ambassadors from a range of countries that criminally penalize same-sex relations and relationships. Her message – that LGBT people are humans with inherent and equal value – was framed with reason and wrapped in sensitivity to culture and religion. The references to her own personal journey on this issue, and to that of our country, underscored that fairness for LGBT people is a common cause, not a subject for lecture.
This, of course, confirms a refreshing change of direction for U.S. diplomacy on a previously ignored problem. The U.S. is a latecomer in international efforts to address the horrific abuses that LGBT people suffer around the world, and the need for our voice has never been more acute. The Obama Administration has risen to the occasion in numerous examples where LGBT rights have been at stake. Although a good start, these efforts often have carried a catch-up feel, without strategic thought or direction. Clinton’s speech provides that framework and direction.