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Clinton addresses human rights, comments on Uganda’s anti-gay bill

Thursday, December 17, 2009
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the Administration’s vision for human rights at Georgetown University this week, specifically referencing Uganda’s proposed anti-gay legislation that would carry a death sentence for certain acts of homosexuality, and calling gay rights the “new frontier.” Here’s an excerpt:

Clinton-Georgetown

“Our goal is to encourage—even demand—that governments must also take responsibility by putting human rights into law and embedding them in government institutions; by building strong, independent courts and competent and disciplined police and law enforcement. And once rights are established, governments should be expected to resist the temptation to restrict freedom of expression when criticism arises, and be vigilant in preventing law from becoming an instrument of oppression, as bills like the one under consideration in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality would do.

“We know that all governments—and all leaders—sometimes fall short. So there have to be internal mechanisms of accountability when rights are violated. Often the toughest test for governments, this is essential to the protection of human rights. And here, too, we should lead by example. In the last six decades we have done this—imperfectly at times but with significant outcomes—from making amends for the internment of our own citizens in World War II, to establishing legal recourse for victims of discrimination in the Jim Crow South, to passing hate crimes legislation to include attacks against gays and lesbians. When injustice anywhere is ignored, justice everywhere is denied. Acknowledging and remedying mistakes does not make us weaker, it reaffirms the strength of our principles and institutions.”

In a Q&A segment following her speech, Clinton was asked this question from a student:

“Hello, Secretary Clinton. Thank you so much for speaking to us today. You spoke about the situation in Uganda. Could you please talk to us a little bit more about how the United States can protect the rights of LGBT people in areas where those rights are not respected?”

Watch her response below:

Full text and video of Clinton’s speech available at the State Department website.

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