Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement in Geneva Tuesday night that the U.S. would be marketing gay rights as an international issue sparked both praise and criticisms from nations around the world, particularly from those in Africa.
According to President Obama, the U.S. plans on using foreign aid to “promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons.” This means that America will ramp up legal, financial, and moral support to gay groups or individuals around the globe who are facing threats. Obama also added that asylum in the U.S. will be offered to people forced to flee homophobic persecutions.
In sub-Saharan Africa, homophobia is widespread and most African countries have come out denouncing Clinton’s initiative. For example, Nigeria reacted so strongly against Clinton’s gay rights speech that it added more anti-gay offenses to the already long list. The current bill states that same-sex kissing in public is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Nigeria isn’t the only country with strict anti-gay laws such as this. If they choose not to cooperate with the gay rights agenda of the Obama administration, here is a list of countries that could see a deduction of U.S. foreign assistance, some of which carry the death penalty for homosexuality:
Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesoto, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra, Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
“I don’t like her tone, at all,” John Nagenda, senior adviser to Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, told The Christian Science Monitor speaking of Clinton’s speech.
“I’m amazed she’s not looking to her own country and lecturing them first, before she comes to say these things which she knows are very sensitive issues in so many parts of the world, not least Africa.”
Nagenda said homosexuality in his country is taboo. “[I]t’s something anathema to Africans, and I can say that this idea of Clinton’s, of Obama’s, is something that will be seen as abhorrent in every country on the continent that I can think of.”
In South and Central America, most headlines regarding the speech took the viewpoint that Obama’s policies have been hijacked, or at least heavily influenced, by gay rights activists.
One headline on the front of Venezuela’s El Universal newspaper reads (translated from Spanish): "The rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are at the heart of [America's] foreign policy." A translated version of the article goes on to imply that this policy shift has something to do with electoral votes for the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
"Obama has taken several policy measures to please the gay rights activists, a key group among voters in the Democratic Party, including the final repeal gay taboo in the Army, putting end a law that barred gays declare their sexual preference," the article reads.
Europe and Asia took a more straightforward news approach to Clinton’s speech, both noting that this may be hard for the U.S. to implement considering a lot of key allies seem to be lacking in the gay rights department, most strikingly Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, not much news coming out of the Middle East region in regards to Clinton’s pro-gay rights speech.