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Rice: LGBT rights among the most challenging global human rights issues

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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Susan RiceAP

Susan Rice

WASHINGTON — With anti-gay laws taking root in nearly 80 countries, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Tuesday 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.

Rice told a White House forum of 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.

She urged religious, human rights and HIV health care advocates to form a united front to halt global discrimination against the LGBT community.

“To achieve lasting global change, we need everyone’s shoulder at the wheel,” she said. “With more voices to enrich and amplify the message — the message that gay rights are straight-up human rights — we can open more minds.”

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Rice cautioned that the effort is difficult because laws limiting gay rights in some countries enjoy strong popular support. But she said cultural differences do not excuse human rights violations.

“Governments are responsible for protecting the rights of all citizens, and it is incumbent upon the state, and on each of us, to foster tolerance and to reverse the tide of discrimination,” Rice said.

Last week, the U.S. imposed visa bans on Ugandan officials who are involved in corruption and are violating the rights of gay people and others. Uganda passed a law in February that strengthened criminal penalties for gay sex and made life sentences possible for those convicted of breaking the law.

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