U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and a strong advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, today praised President Obama's new directives to federal agencies to ensure U.S. diplomatic and foreign-assistance efforts promote and protect the human rights of LGBT people. He released the following statement:
"LGBT rights are human rights, whether a person lives in the United States or abroad. America's foreign policy can and should be led by its values, and protecting the basic human rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity is certainly one of them. President Obama has taken a strong stand today, making sure our policy matches our rhetoric. The targeting of individuals for criminal action based on sexual orientation and gender identity is unacceptable. The strategy the President laid out today confronts discrimination and human rights abuses against LGBT persons at multiple levels, strengthening the United States' posture and making clear to nations that look to the U.S. for leadership and support that we are not going to stand for the reprehensible anti-LGBT policies emerging especially in developing nations.
"The United States' diplomatic and development efforts play an important role in shaping the world. It's not enough just to say that human rights shouldn't be denied based on sexual orientation or identity -- we must make sure our policies live up to our principles. I strongly support President Obama's actions today, and look forward to working with the Administration to monitor their implementation."
As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, Senator Coons has repeatedly called on African leaders to abandon efforts to criminalize homosexuality, including Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill in May, and the Nigerian Senate's criminalization bill last month.