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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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During his trip to Africa last year, Obama while in Senegal urged African leaders to extend equal rights to gays and lesbians.

President Obama speaks with Senegalese President Macky Sall during a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Dakar, Senegal. Evan Vucci, AP

President Obama speaks with Senegalese President Macky Sall during a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Dakar, Senegal.

Senegal’s president, however, pushed back saying his country “still isn’t ready” to decriminalize homosexuality. Seven countries have laws imposing death sentences for gay sex and Brunei is on track to becoming the eighth one.

“The United States government will continue to beat back barriers and speak out on behalf of the rights of all people the world over. We do this both because it’s our moral obligation, and because it’s in our interests,” Rice said. “Nations that protect human rights are more stable, more peaceful and more prosperous partners for the United States.”

Tuesday’s forum was the latest administrative attempt by Obama to promote gay and lesbian rights both in the United States and abroad.

Obama successfully pushed to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military and his administration stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act years before the Supreme Court took it up.

Earlier this month, Obama announced he will sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last week, the Administration also granted new benefits to same-sex couples, including those who live in states where gay marriage is against the law.

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