December 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Susan Rice: LGBT rights an essential part of U.S. foreign policy

Susan Rice, Barack Obama, gay news, Washington Blade

National Security Advisor Susan Rice (Photo public domain)

National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Wednesday stressed support of LGBT rights remains an essential part of American foreign policy.

“The United States remains firmly committed to promoting freedom, opportunity and prosperity everywhere,” she said during a speech at the Newseum in downtown Washington during Human Rights First’s annual Human Rights Summit. “We stand proudly for the rights of women, the LGBT community and minorities.”

Rice noted President Obama spoke in support of LGBT rights during a June press conference in the Senegalese capital with the African country’s president the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and struck down California’s Proposition 8. Senegal is among the more than 70 countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations further highlighted Obama’s meeting with Russian LGBT Network Chair Igor Kochetkov, Olga Lenkova of Coming Out and seven other Russian human rights advocates during the G-20 summit that took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, in September.

Rice noted the U.S. “often can cooperate with Russia” on arms control and other “vital interests,” but she was quick to criticize the Kremlin’s human rights record.

“As we meet these mutual challenges, we don’t remain silent about the Russian government’s systematic efforts to curtail the actions of Russian civil society, to stigmatize the LGBT community,” Rice said. “We deplore selective justice and the prosecution of those who protest the corruption and cronyism that is sapping Russia’s economic future and limiting its potential to play its full role on the world stage.”

Rice also pointed out in her speech the U.S. has backed pro-LGBT resolutions on the U.N. Human Rights Council and in the Organization of American States and the Pan-American Health Organization.

“No one should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” she said. “We’re working to lead internationally as we have domestically on LGBT issues.”

Rice noted the Obama administration supports “full equality” for LGBT Americans that includes the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She also cited slain San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk and the late-former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who introduced the first federal gay rights bill in 1975, as among the “champions who fought to bring us closer to ideals” outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that members of the U.N. General Assembly approved 65 years ago this month.

“Continuing their work at home and expanding it around the globe is our great commission as inheritors of their legacy,” Rice said.

She also met with Kaspars Zalitis of the Latvian LGBT advocacy group Mozaika, Jovanka Todorovic of the Labris Lesbian Human Rights Organization in Serbia and other human rights advocates after her speech.

Rice served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 until Obama tapped her to succeed then-National Security Advisor Tom Donilon in June after he resigned. She backed a resolution in support of LGBT rights the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted in 2011.

She withdrew her name as a potential successor to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last year amid controversy over the Sept. 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Why is the Obama administration trying to warm up relations with some of the most anti-LGBT countries in the world, such as Iran?

  • Why? Honestly, it is none of our business what the LGBT status is in any other country than the USA. We have enough problems here in the USA, and ONLY 15 of our own states are Same-sex marriage states. How about we make same-sex marriage THE LAW here in the USA before we pontificate to any other nation what WE think THEY should be doing. This entire Obama administration is Preposterous.

  • NOTE to all Activists who think Demonstration are ’Silly’
    National Security Adviser Susan Rice speech reported on day
    #AMPA American (same-sex) Military Partners Assoc is invited to #WHITEHOUSE
    ~3 yrs after DADT repealed, and 3 yrs +1 mo. after 13 ARRESTED ON WHITEHOUSE FENCE
    #lgbt #militaryfamilies #gaymarriage #dadt

  • Foreign policy is more than simply converting other states to doing it "your way". It is also about defending "your way" and about communicating "your way" in a manner which the foreign state does not interpret as a threat to themselves.

  • It is essential I agree, it's more possible then it would be under that idiot Bush. However, I don't understand, why we can't have more US embassy's in countries that are allies anyway, educate political influence or support more local GLBT pride with in that country. The U,N members of that country would still have a say so I don't understand, why it can't done should be the proper way of doing it esspeically in countries regions like Asia where some countries still kill GLBT or don't disclose any education on it the Embassy could pick up the slack on that it's not like the Embassy itself would be changing any laws.

  • Neil Cameron – But until "our way" is unanimous nationwide, the message is mixed and confusing. We have 50 States, and yet only 15 of them allow Same-Sex marriage. How is ANY message we send not confusing and irrelevant? Besides, it is really NONE of our business what Russia, China or Angola do in THEIR country. We have more than enough problems here in the USA to deal with. The most pressing is the constant lies, scandals and corruption in the present administration. BTW…. Bush did more to advance the "Gay Agenda" than Obama has. Obama has not been the Gay Ally that he sold you all on, he is a liar and a criminal. Kinda weird considering his own "Gay Lifestyle" in Chicago…

  • Jordan DeRoulet – Since when has any message sent out by the USA not been mixed and confusing? Every time the Presidency changes party the rest of the world is subjected to a completely different American "way". Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama…. US foreign policy is an endless flip flopping through history. It gives the appearance of a schizo multiple personality Nation!
    The USA cant ignore 15 of its states in its foreign policy. The federal government serves all 50 and must represent all 50.
    There are countries in Africa which oppose gay rights, their gays become refugees fleeing for their lives. Where do they go? What impact does that have on the countries of destination? Surely by "selling" gay rights in foreign policy, the other countries would create and foster an environment which does not result in gay refugees fleeing persecution and seeking protection in USA? Foreign policy can help with that.
    Paradoxically the US anti gay right wing feverishly campaign to undermine it by spreading the anti gay message worldwide (Scott Liveley, Caleb Lee Brundidge, Don Schmierer influencing Ugandas 'Kill the Gays Bill"), effectively spreading the very message which generates gay refugees fleeing to America. The govts role is to protect the borders. Do you want the floods of gay refugees in US or would you rather the govt work to prevent a flood of gay refugees?

  • Neil Cameron – Brother, I am all for Gay Rights in the USA. I work for the GLBT yellow pages – I just think we have enough on our plate. IMO – Peace from Seattle <3

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