U.S. Department of State Engagement on the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Washington, DC
December 6, 2011


"Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights, once and for all."  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,  June 2010, Washington, D.C.

Human rights are inalienable and belong to every person, no matter who that person is or whom that person loves. Since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has championed a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the protection of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Under Secretary Clinton’s leadership, the Department is:

  • Engaging bilaterally and regionally in conjunction with U.S. embassies, civil society, and multilateral agencies to encourage countries to repeal or reform laws that criminalize LGBT conduct or status.
  • Reinforcing the human rights of LGBT people in multilateral fora, such as the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). In June 2011, the United States joined South Africa and a cross-regional group of co-sponsors in passing the first-ever UN HRC resolution on the human rights of LGBT persons.
  • Promoting human rights worldwide. U.S. embassies are declaring the United States’ support for the human rights of LGBT people through innovative public diplomacy. Ambassadors and embassies host public discussions and private roundtables, publish op-eds and support Pride events.
  • Supporting LGBT human rights defenders and civil society groups, with programmatic and financial assistance, including efforts to document human rights violations; build advocacy skills; provide advocates with legal representation; and, when necessary, relocation support.
  • Reporting on the conditions of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in each of its annual, country-specific Human Rights Reports.
  • Strengthening the Department’s personnel and consular policies. The Secretary extended the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of foreign service staff serving abroad. The United States also incorporated gender identity into federal equal employment opportunity policies in 2010.
  • Protecting LGBT refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants through a protection strategy developed with other U.S. Government agencies, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and NGOs.