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article imageUS foreign aid may be influenced by how countries treat gays

By Andrew John     Dec 8, 2011 in Lifestyle
Decisions on foreign aid from the United States may in future be influenced by how countries treat gays and lesbians among their citizens.
This is according to a presidential memorandum issued by the White House.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Geneva while presenting the White House’s policy in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council: “Gay rights are human rights,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Some nations – notably in the Middle East and Africa – that are the biggest recipients of aid from the United States prohibit same-sex activity. Among them are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Bloomberg Businessweek says: “President Barack Obama said in the document he is directing all agencies engaged abroad to make sure US diplomacy and aid programs ‘promote and protect’ the rights of gays and lesbians.”
In the memorandum, Obama writes: “The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.”
Directing agencies abroad to improve protection – both refugee and asylum – for LGBT people is a reflection of “our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people,” he writes.
Businessweek adds: “[The policy] also calls for strengthening US efforts to oppose foreign governments criminalizing homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender behavior.”
London protest
Issues of homosexuality in the Middle East and Africa have rarely been far from the news lately. Only a few days ago, the US government expressed concern about a recent bill passed by the Nigerian senate that imposes a jail term of 14 years on anyone convicted of contracting same-sex marriage, as we reported in Digital Journal.
Protests at the situation in Nigeria reached London last month, when Nigerian lesbian and gay people demanded the repeal of all same-sex laws in their country.
Among the banners they carried were “Kiss Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Goodbye!”; “Proudly Gay, Proudly Nigerian!”; “Some Nigerians are Gay, Get over it!”; “Kiss Anti-Same-Sex marriage bill and Sodomy laws Goodbye!”; “Stop turning us into refugees, Repeal Sodomy laws Now!”
One of the coordinators of the protest, Davis Mac-Iyalla, told the protestors that Nigeria should abandon its homophobia. And senators, he said, should stop prying into citizens’ bedrooms and instead look towards the task of improving the country’s economy.
More about Obama, Gays, Foreign aid, samesex, Gay
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