Post submitted by Bo Suh, HRC Digital Media Intern

Susan Rice, the White House National Security Adviser, said Tuesday that the most challenging human rights issue facing the U.S. is protecting international LGBT people from discrimination.

Speaking at the first-ever LGBT Human Rights Forum, Rice urged religious, human rights, and HIV and health care advocates to unite against global discrimination of LGBT people. She also told advocates that the Obama administrated has directed U.S. diplomacy and financial aid to help LGBT people in other countries.

However, Rice argued that the effort to protect global LGBT citizens is difficult because many anti-gay laws are widely supported in foreign countries. Seven countries, with Brunei on track to become the eighth, still impose the death penalty for same-sex sex while 77 countries illegalize homosexual acts. Only 18 countries issue same-sex marriage licenses. 

The forum, which is part of the U.S.’s ongoing efforts to promote and protect LGBT people around the world, also discussed other measures including how to combat anti-LGBT laws, protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination, respond to human rights abuses, protect LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, and engage international organizations to fight LGBT discrimination. For the full statement on the forum, click here.

Later that night, Vice President Biden emphasized the importance of protecting LGBT people around the world during a pool report. He accredited global change to LGBT people having the courage to come out and called the issue of LGBT rights “the civil rights issue of our day.” He also emphasized the U.S.’s role as a leader in LGBT rights and said that cultural differences do not justify the persecution of LGBT people.

The Obama administration has already made efforts to fight discrimination around the world. Just last week, the U.S. issued a series of efforts to protect LGBT and human rights in Uganda, including restricting entrance visas to Ugandan officials who have been involved with LGBT discrimination.

These efforts to protect global LGBT citizens are being spearheaded by other politicians as well – last week, out Rep. David Cicilline from Rhode Island proposed a bill that would ban entry to all LGBT and human rights violators. However, anti-LGBT laws continue to exist and grow in other countries and pose a serious threat to the global LGBT community.

For more information on international LGBT issues, click here

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