8 Must-Read Moments of Hillary Clinton's Speech
BY Michelle Garcia
December 06 2011 7:38 PM ET
Tuesday's landmark speech from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the United States' stance on an "invisible minority" in many countries, as she put it — LGBT and gender-varyiant people. The full speech is available here, but if you're in a hurry, here are eight key points made during her address on global gay rights to United Nations member countries.
1. On the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.
2. On the Status of LGBT Rights in the U.S.
I speak about this subject knowing that my own country's record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.
(RELATED: Read our coverage of the speech here)
3. Why Do Countries Need to Distinguish Gay Rights?
Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.
This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.
4. What Are Violations of Gay Rights?
- When a person is beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave
- When governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished
- When lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments
- When people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives.
- When lifesaving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay.