Britain’s Cameron urged to back Obama in global campaign for gay and lesbian rights

The Kaleidoscope Trust yesterday called on David Cameron to back a new global initiative to combat human rights abuses against LGBT people launched by President Obama on Wednesday.

The US government strategy to protect the rights of gay and lesbian people around the world and combat the criminalisation of homosexuality was set out in a major speech by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at the United Nations in Geneva. Clinton announced a new Global Equality Fund and urged other countries to support it.

The Kaleidoscope Trust was among the international human rights organisations invited to meet Clinton. It has welcomed the speech as a significant step forward in the global campaign to assert that, in her words, “it should never be a crime to be gay.”

Speaking in Geneva, Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, said, “The Obama administration has set a new benchmark for governments in supporting human rights for all. David Cameron must now demonstrate his commitment to defending LGBT rights around the world by throwing Britain’s weight and influence behind this campaign.”

He added, “For the first time America now has a government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT people abroad backed by a new Global Equality Fund. David Cameron has spoken up in defence of equality for gay and lesbian people at home and abroad, but Britain lags behind when it comes to action and practical support.”

Price said, “The Prime Minister said he wants Britain to be a global beacon for reform of gay and lesbian rights. We strongly applaud that. Now is the time for him to demonstrate that commitment in practise by strengthening the government’s response in line with that of the United Sates.”

He suggested that Britain should:

  • Establish a specific FCO unit to coordinate the defence of LGBT rights as a foreign policy priority;
  • Direct British embassies, high commissions and other agencies abroad to use all means available to combat the criminalisation of homosexuality and promote the protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from persecution;
  • Contribute financially to the international effort in support of civil society groups advocating the recognition of LGBT rights as part of a comprehensive human rights policy. 

The full text of Hillary Clinton’s speech can be found on the Kaleidoscope Trust’s website.

Announcing the new initiative, she said, “This morning, back in Washington, President Obama put into place the first US Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad. Building on efforts already underway at the State Department and across the government, the President has directed all US Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct, to enhance efforts to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, to ensure that our foreign assistance promotes the protection of LGBT rights, to enlist international organizations in the fight against discrimination, and to respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons.

“I am also pleased to announce that we are launching a new Global Equality Fund that will support the work of civil society organizations working on these issues around the world. This fund will help them record facts so they can target their advocacy, learn how to use the law as a tool, manage their budgets, train their staffs, and forge partnerships with women’s organizations and other human rights groups. We have committed more than $3 million to start this fund, and we have hope that others will join us in supporting it.”

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