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Clinton Urges Worldwide End To Discrimination Against Gays

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the assembly during a speech entitled "Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights" at the United Nations in Geneva on December 6.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for governments around the world to stop persecuting homosexuals, and says the United States is ramping up its efforts against antigay discrimination.

In a speech at United Nations offices in Geneva on December 6 to mark International Human Rights Day, the top U.S. diplomat sought to dispel the notion that homosexuality is a Western phenomenon, declaring, "In reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world."

"It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave," Clinton said. "It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments."

Clinton announced that the Obama administration is committing $3 million to a fund aimed at supporting civil-society organizations around the world that are working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.

A directive issued by Obama also orders U.S. government agencies involved in foreign aid to combat efforts abroad to criminalize homosexual behavior.

It was not immediately clear how the push might impact U.S. relations with allied countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a criminal offense.

compiled from agency reports