US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official profile] announced Tuesday that the US will use foreign assistance, international diplomacy and political asylum to promote gay rights [remarks]. The secretary's remarks before the UN Human Rights Council [official website] in Geneva were in tandem with an executive memo [text] from US President Barack Obama [official website] directing federal agencies to investigate avenues to combat criminalization of homosexuality [SFC report] and to consider gay rights in aid and asylum decisions [BBC report]. In conjunction with International Human Rights Day, the secretary explained:
Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. ... Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity. ... Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.The immediate implications are unclear as several current aid recipients have laws criminalizing homosexuality.
As Clinton noted, gay rights have not been universally acknowledged. Last week, the Nigerian Senate passed a bill making it illegal for same-sex couples to marry [JURIST report] or for an individual to aid in the marriage of same-sex couples. The bill explicitly states that marriages entered into by persons of the same gender are prohibited and will not be recognized as valid, even if the marriage certificate is obtained in a foreign country. Last month, Russian lawmakers in the city of St. Petersburg overwhelmingly approved an initial reading of a bill that would impose fines against people convicted of promoting homosexuality [JURIST report], including gays or lesbians who are open about their sexuality. The legislation, which was supported by the ruling United Russia party [AFP report], would ban gay pride parades and any activity in public which could influence children and that could be viewed as promoting a gay, lesbian, transgender or LGBT lifestyle. Also last month, the Ugandan High Court [official website] sentenced a man to 30 years in prison for beating to death prominent gay rights activist [JURIST report] David Kato. Enock Nsubuga confessed to the January 2011 killing, admitting to beating Kato [Reuters report] with a hammer at his home before he died on the way to the hospital. Nsubuga claimed that he attacked Kato in response to sexual advances he made.