While Obama has had the respect of many in the international community since his election, his recent policy shift on same-sex marriage is getting applause from human rights defenders the world over. Today, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) released a statement on President Obama’s Global Leadership on LGBT Rights:
President Obama’s declaration signals a landmark moment during a historic time for the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights. It comes just months after he released a presidential memorandum calling for US agencies engaged abroad to integrate the protection of LGBT people into their work globally. Relationship recognition is a critical aspect of LGBT rights which stands side-by-side with other concerns including ending bias violence and state-sanctioned homophobia and transphobia in healthcare and employment.
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President Obama’s statement parallels that of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, who said in a taped video message to the UN Human Rights Council in March, “I did not grow up talking about these issues, but I learned to speak out because lives are at stake and because it is our duty…to protect the rights of everyone, everywhere. We need to tackle the violence, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, end discrimination and educate the public… the time has come.
There are rare moments when the goals and hopes of world leaders and human rights advocates are in alignment. At least in some places–be it the town, the city or even the country, we are in such a moment now, and it is a moment to take bold steps forward. We call upon these leaders to move their powerful words into action,” said Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
In supporting same-sex marriage, President Obama joins leaders around the world whose positions on LGBT rights have evolved. Globally, same-sex marriage is now legal in eleven nations including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the capital city of Mexico. It is also legal in six states in the United States though not recognized at the federal level.