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What Hillary Clinton said about LGBT rights that you need to hear

Thursday, June 19, 2014
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In her interview with Terry Gross, Hillary Clinton defended including the transgender community in the fight for LGBT rights. “LGBT includes the T, and I wanted to stand up for the entire community. I don’t believe that people who are the L, the G, the B or the T should be persecuted, assaulted, imprisoned, even killed for who they are.”

Hillary Clinton at a book signing event in New York on June 10, 2014. Bebeto Matthews, AP

Hillary Clinton at a book signing event in New York on June 10, 2014.

Amen. Let’s hear that again.

“I don’t believe that people who are the L, the G, the B or the T should be persecuted, assaulted, imprisoned, even killed for who they are.”

I don’t believe any of us should be either. But that is what is happening. It must stop.

Clinton expressed to Terry Gross her frustration with leaders who denied the existence of homosexuality in their countries and declared it “all an invention and export from the West.” This may seem preposterous (not a single gay person in your entire country?!) but that belief is real. In 2007, speaking at Columbia University, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals.” When interviewed in 2011 by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, he confirmed, “My position hasn’t changed.”

One wonders what President Ahmadinejad might say about the fact that an 82-page report using data compiled by the Iranian Ministry of Education from 2007-2008 reveals that 17.5% of male and female Iranian students admitted to being gay.

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But if he doesn’t acknowledge their existence, he cannot be responsible for addressing their human rights.

In the movie The Confession (1999), character Harry Fertig declaims, “Most people think it’s hard to do the right thing. It’s not hard to do the right thing; it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is. Once you know what the right thing is, it’s hard not to do it.”

Clinton made the hard choice to defend the human rights of the international LGBT community and, in her interview with Terry Gross, she reminds us that none of us lives on an island. We are a global community. It is not enough to fight for equality at home. We must win equality at home and continue to be a vocal leader in the fight for the human rights of LGBT persons everywhere. Nothing short of real lives is at stake.

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