Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke recently at Syracuse University. Secretary Clinton spoke on a wide range of topics including human rights in the United States and abroad, specifically targeting women’s rights and those of the LGBT community. In discussing the rights of the lgbt community Clinton highlighted the difficulties in dealing with some African and Middle Eastern nations that refuse to even acknowledge the existence of lgbt citizens.
“[The United States] believes that [countries] should not be discriminating against or permitting violence against the LGBT community. And in many places, in particularly Africa and Asia, that is just a totally foreign concept. I mean, the first response is, “We don’t have any of those here.” (Laughter.) Second response is, “If we did, we would not want to have them and would want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. And it’s your problem, United States of America, that you have so many of those people. So don’t come here and tell us to protect the rights of people we don’t have or that we don’t want.” (Laughter.)
And so, I mean, I call leaders and I say, “You’ve got a legislator who’s just introduced a bill that calls for the death penalty against LGBT people. That’s really a terrible idea.” “Well, we don’t have any of them. They’ve been imported from the West” – (laughter) – “and we don’t need them.” I said, “Well, all right. Let’s start at something very basic. Why do you have to kill them?” (Laughter.) “Well, maybe you’re right about that. We won’t impose the death penalty, but they may have to go to prison.”
Okay, that’s the kind of discussions that you have when you’re talking about human rights. And it’s not that people get up in the morning and say, “I’m against human rights.” It’s that from where they come, on women or LGBT or minority groups, you say, “You don’t treat that minority group very well.” If you’re talking in the Middle East sometimes, “Take better – be nicer to your Shia or your Sunni.” Or, “Please don’t discriminate against your Christians.” It’s a very difficult conversation because it’s just not been one that people have had up until now. I think it’s very important we do that, but I give you this sort of flavor so that you understand we can either have a conversation and try to convince people to move in a certain direction, to provide greater protection for human rights, or we can lecture at them, we can call them names, we can preach, and the lives of the people who are being discriminated against will not change.”
Clinton went on to speak about environmental issues and challenges, the reluctance of young people to get involved in politics, her career as Secretary of State and more. The full transcript of her remarks can be found HERE
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