U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton Pays Tribute to Ugandan Gay Rights Defenders

By Melanie Nathan, August 04, 2012,

“I’m well aware that you do your work often amidst difficult, even dangerous circumstances. I know that some of your lives have been threatened, your friends and families intimidated. But I want you to know that the United States is and will be your partner.” Hillary Clinton

United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented the Human Rights Defenders Awards at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala today.  The Secretary of State  paid tribute to a Ugandan human rights coalition working for gay rights in Uganda.

Visiting the Ugandan capital Kampala, she awarded a prize to the “brave men and women” in a Ugandan rights coalition working to against the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill also known as the “Kill The Gays”  bill that would set draconian punishments for homosexual acts.

Her remarks came at the same time as LGBT activists were holding an historic Pride Parade and events at an Entebbe Beach, which was raided by police, despite being lawful.

Here are her remarks.

Thank you so much. Well, I am very pleased to be here once again in Kampala and to have the opportunity to present the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award to not just one person, but to a coalition of groups that are standing up for human rights and setting an example for how civil society can work together in common cause.

Now I know our meeting has been months in the making, but I am so delighted to be here in person to meet each of you – some of you I’ve met before, but not all of you – and to put everybody’s face and name and organization together.

Since I became Secretary, we have worked to elevate the role of civil society, and especially groups that promote human rights. And so we want to be your partners as well to help bend the arc of history toward justice and to help more people lead lives of dignity and opportunity. The work you are doing is helping to make human rights a human reality. You are tearing down barriers that prevent people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, the full benefits of humanity. And this coalition shows what can happen when brave change-makers come together.

I’ve said before it is critical for all Ugandans – the government and citizens alike – to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love. And no one has been a stronger champion than all of you. You’ve been organized, disciplined, and savvy. You have marshaled the evidence and made the arguments using the rights enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and in international law. And by doing so, you are a model for others and an inspiration to the world.

I’m well aware that you do your work often amidst difficult, even dangerous circumstances. I know that some of your lives have been threatened, your friends and families intimidated. But I want you to know that the United States is and will be your partner. I raised these issues with President Museveni today, because this isn’t just about carving out special privileges for any one group; this is about making sure universal rights are protected for all people. A violation of anyone’s rights is a violation of everyone’s rights.

Standing up for human rights is not always popular, but it is always honorable. And I am delighted to present you with this award to celebrate the work of this coalition to defend the human rights of all Ugandans.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

U.S. Embassy
Kampala, Uganda
August 3, 2012

PRN: 2012/T69-04

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11 Comments on “U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton Pays Tribute to Ugandan Gay Rights Defenders”

  1. Tracy Fortune August 5, 2012 at 12:33 AM #

    I appreciate Sec. Clinton’s support- but how in the world can she go there & say that knowing that marriage equality is still being denied to US citizens- and for no reason?

    • Melanie Nathan August 5, 2012 at 8:57 AM #

      Well Clinton and Obama have set the record straight – they are clear supporters of marriage equality in the USA. If DOMA was repealed and landed on Obama’s desk for signature, he would sign it! So now its up to Congress and/or the Supreme Court. So Marriage equality is not being “denied” by the USA – it just has not passed the obstructionist Congress made up of Republican majority! In fact the Obama administration has given instructions to agencies not to enforce certain aspects that uphold DOMA.

      Your contention would be correct if the current administration did not support marriage equality, but now it is on the record as wanting it. Its up to Congress and the Courts to make it happen. That is how the American democracy supposedly work. Lets see… if we land up witgh Romney and more Republicans we can kiss it all goodbye

      • Tracy August 5, 2012 at 7:18 PM #

        Obviously, Romney elected would be a far worse outcome- but you can’t justify something is good merely because it’s the lesser of two evils. Bill Clinton signed DOMA as a political ploy- and had plenty of democrats & liberals turn their collective heads when he did so. Whatever inroads are happening now is due to other brave people & groups who keep this at the forefront (like yourself)- it is not due to the Clintons, at all.

        I feel that, like Clinton (& Bush later)- that Obama is again using the LGBT as a political tool. It’s sad that we have to keep getting “thrown under the bus” in order to chip away at the rampant discrimination visited upon us.

        Frank Rich wrote a great article about this:

        http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/gay-marriage-2012-3/

        • Melanie Nathan August 5, 2012 at 10:39 PM #

          Well all I can say is that things are a whole lot different now than they were 20 years ago when Bill Clinton signed DOMA. All minorities are and will forever be perceived as political tools because after all it is political to give and take rights…… so I dont really buy the argument. However I do say one simple fact is present – times have changed, support for marriage equality has increased, the Obama admin has said it supports equality and is doing whatever it can given obstructionist GOP Congress to make it happen….. We will ONLY get our rights via the Courts and that is happening – because of the lack of progressives in Congress and the GOP majority. It has come down to that. How we got here is less important than the fact of the matter which is that we are finally here at the border crossing of the new frontier. Now we just have to cross over… what needs to happen now in the USA is for every damn LGBTI person to come out of the shadows and get up and TALK to your representatives whether GOP or DEM – just tell your stories – bombard em! Educate friends and neighbors. I am on a FB forum and cannot believe the damn ignorance – people who really believe that helping binational same- sex couples stay together in the USA is giving Special rights….. what they dont get is the iniquity in the law that places same-sex couples in a position where they need “special” treatment from he admin until the law changes and equality prevails.

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