President Barack Obama on Tuesday issued a directive elevating the the rights and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people abroad as a priority in U.S. foreign policy. A memorandum Mr. Obama sent to government agencies directs them to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, or LGBT persons.
He said he has been "deeply concerned" by violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons. He cited foreign laws criminalizing LGBT status, the beating of LGBT citizens for joining peaceful celebrations, and the killing of men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation. Mr. Obama said America's commitment to advancing human rights for all people is strengthened when it vigorously advances the goal of promoting LGBT rights. Mr. Obama raised the issue at the United Nations General Assembly in September. "No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere," he said.
Treatment of LGBT people in other countries is already mentioned in annual State Department country human rights assessments. Mr. Obama's directive elevates the issue's importance as a foreign policy priority.