Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hot Air American Style: International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons

Hillary Clinton is a busy woman and so I can only imagine the US Secretary of State was a) too busy to pre-read a speech she delivered this week in Geneva and b) the victim of her staff having a little fun.  Along with the White House she announced a commitment by America to the 'human rights' of LGBT people around the world - and a commitment to promote human rights issues in this area.  She also announced a new Global Equality Fund with $3 million in the kitty - and the hope other countries would chip in (the world is after all flush with cash).  For America, the $3 million figure is interesting - presumably Obama and Hillary had a root around the backs of official sofas for some small change, but the wider issue is of course America lecturing the world on LGBT rights - I mean really?

So, the question about whether Hilary actually knew what she was saying (surely she'd correct it or ask "hang on guys, this is for real?"was taken up by the media.  Via the wonders of open government, the teleconference briefing on the story was published on the US State Department website.  You can read it here.  One member of the media asked if Hilary had actually written the speech.  This was the punchy and clear response from officials:
Well, she has a terrific amount of input into all of her speeches, but this is a speech that is very much crafted in her voice and with her guidance and her intentions in mind. I mean, she knew when she was going to give the speech. She knew that, as she said in the speech, that it is a topic that is still sensitive for some, and she wanted to be aware of that, sensitive to that, respectful of that. As she said in the speech, she wanted to give people a chance to raise what they were concerned about, afraid about, et cetera. And yet it’s something on which she also said in her speech over time – over the course of her life, her own sensitivities and convictions have deepened. And so I think, as I said at the outset, the speech was – because of her guidance and because of the work that she did on the speech, she worked through multiple drafts and makes edits and captures exactly what kind of tone she wants and writes out paragraphs longhand, et cetera. And I think in doing that, she really – she very purposefully made it both firmly principled and also unimpeachably respectful. And I think in that respect, it reflects her broader vision and her leadership in this area.
Hmm! The full speech can be viewed here and watched below:

It is of course to be welcomed that America broadly takes this approach but perhaps their speech and political efforts should be focused inwardly as well as externally.   Moreover, careful reading of the speech will reveal an administration balancing freedom of religion with sexuality and a focus upon ensuring LGBT people are not criminalised,a rested and physically injured.  It avoids the tough questions of same-sex marriage, employment protections, goods and services rights, adoption and fertility rights, medical access for those seeking to transition and so on.

This failure -and that's what it is - enables countries such as Nigeria to dismiss these calls, and the whole speech to amount to nothing more than vacuous remarks.

The US administration also issued a Presidential Memorandum - quite literally a note from the boss to government agencies.  That memo applied to the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.

It made a series of specific directions to agencies, requiring them to:

• Combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad.
• Protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.
• Leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination.
• Ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad.
• Engage International Organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.
• Report on progress.

The memorandum is worth reading in full which you can do here, and although it received less attention in the media, it is equally vacuous.  America, this isn't good enough.

Share this:

Copyright © 2014 Law and Sexuality. Designed by OddThemes | Distributed By Gooyaabi Templates