In a brazen display of hypocrisy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the United Nations Dec. 6 calling discrimination against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people "one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.” She went on to say: “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It is [a] violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished."
It was while Hillary Clinton reigned as ”first lady” that her husband, then President Bill Clinton, signed the homophobic “Defense of Marriage Act” into federal law, denying same-sex couples legal protection or recognition of their relationships.
Also during the Clintons' tenure in the White House, the infamous and now defunct “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy was enshrined in the military, codifying anti-gay discrimination in the armed services.
John Nagenda, a senior adviser to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, put it in a nutshell, "I'm amazed she's not looking to her own country and lecturing them first.”
The State Department timed the announcement to coincide with this year's International Human Rights Day. But the U.S. lags far behind other countries in its equitable treatment of LGBT people. In the United States, at the federal level, there is no recognition of same-sex unions and no laws forbidding employment discrimination against LGBT people. It was not until 2003 that laws in the United States making it illegal to simply be LGBT were struck down. In contrast, South Africa enshrined LGBT equality in its post-apartheid constitution in 1994.
Same-sex marriage is permitted or recognized in a number of countries, including Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Belgium, but not in the United States.
In bringing this message to a worldwide audience, the U.S. is posing as a defender of LGBT rights on the international arena. In reality, this initiative is an underhanded acknowledgement of the decades of struggle waged by the LGBT community and its allies to overcome obstacles created and enforced by the U.S. ruling class and its government.
That LGBT equality has been raised as an international human rights issue represents a victory for working people. But it is a victory that LGBT people and their allies have won through their own tireless efforts, without the help of capitalist politicians or imperialist diplomats.
It would appear that in highlighting gay rights, Clinton and the class she represents are seeking to use the issue as a club to target governments that do not toe the imperialist line in some way. It also appears that this new foreign policy initiative is conveniently timed with the election season in an effort to rally LGBT voters behind President Obama in his re-election bid.
The Democrats, like the Republicans, work for—and in—the class interests of the 1 percent. By posing as the defenders of LGBT rights, and periodically making minor concessions to the movement, the Democratic Party attempts to sidetrack the struggle and channel its energy into ruling-class politics. We need a party that fights for our rights, not one that hypocritically uses our issues for its own ends.