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Biden: Protecting LGBT rights must trump national cultures, social traditions

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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Joe BidenManuel Balce Ceneta, AP

Joe Biden

WASHINGTON — Seeking to mobilize a global front against anti-gay violence and discrimination, Vice President Joe Biden declared Tuesday that protecting gay rights is a defining mark of a civilized nation and must trump national cultures and social traditions.

Biden told a gathering of U.S. and international gay rights advocates that President Barack Obama has directed that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote the rights of LGBT men and women around the world.

“I don’t care what your culture is,” Biden told about 100 guests at the Naval Observatory’s vice presidential mansion. “Inhumanity is inhumanity is inhumanity. Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.”

With anti-gay laws taking root in nearly 80 countries, Biden and other top White House officials met with religious, human rights and HIV health care advocates in a forum dedicated to promoting gay rights internationally.

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Biden, who has emerged as a leading gay rights advocate within the Obama administration ever since he got ahead of Obama in declaring his support for same-sex marriage, said that across U.S government agencies officials have been instructed to make the promotion of gay rights abroad a priority.

Where countries fail to move toward protections of LGBT people, he warned, “there is a price to pay for being inhumane.” Among those at the evening reception were leading gay rights activists and the ambassadors from Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.

Earlier Tuesday, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice cast the protection of gays from global discrimination, abuse and even death as one of the most challenging international human rights issue facing the United States.

Biden called gay rights “the civil rights issue of our day.”

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