State Department vs. Catholic Countries
Response to the U.S. foreign-policy agenda on homosexual rights in the wake of recent speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
BY KEVIN J. JONES (CNA)
| Posted 6/30/11 at 1:34 PM
WASHINGTON (CNA) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has praised State Department action on “LGBT” rights which include support for “Gay Pride” marches and a Lady Gaga concert in Rome. But two critics said U.S. advocacy is “far beyond the mainstream” and risks alienating the Church from social life in Catholic countries.
“The administration has made the LGBT agenda one of the cornerstones of their foreign policy,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. “They have directed their embassies everywhere to monitor and assist domestic homosexual movements whether the host country and their people accept it or not.”
“The U.S. is very powerful and can force governments to submit to its social-policy views,” Ruse told CNA June 28.
Rebecca Marchinda, director of advocacy for the U.N.-focused World Youth Alliance, warned that U.S. activism — in Catholic countries especially — could result in the alienation of “the Church from the public sphere and the debate about these issues.
“Instead of recognizing that states have legitimate reasons for recognizing marriage and family as an institution (and not other arrangements), the U.S. will help to pit the Catholic Church against civil society by stating that opposition to the U.S. ideas is based solely on outdated religious ideas.”
Some of these legitimate reasons, she noted, exist prior to religion and promote dignity and the common good.
Secretary Clinton discussed the U.S. administration’s role in homosexual advocacy at a June 27 LGBT Pride Month celebration co-hosted by the State Department and the organization Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome played an “instrumental role” in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a EuroPride concert, Clinton said. Organizers of the event “desperately” wanted the American music star to perform, and a letter to Lady Gaga from Ambassador David Thorne played a key role in securing the agreement.
“Over 1 million people attended the event, which included powerful words in support of equality and justice,” Clinton said.
Lady Gaga, a leading advocate for homosexual political causes, has also created several highly sexualized music videos that use Catholic religious symbols.
Paola Concia, a homosexual deputy of Italy’s Democratic Party, told the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano that Ambassador Thorne’s intervention in the event was “surely” influenced by the political situation in Italy — the only founding nation of the European Union without a law on so-called homosexual rights.
The ambassador has frequently referred to Secretary Clinton’s phrase that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”
In her June 27 remarks, Clinton added that U.S. embassy staff in Slovakia worked “overtime” to help make the pride parade in that country a success after the first one ended in violence.
The staff brought together more than 20 chiefs of mission from other nations to sign a public statement of support for the march and hosted a “respectful, productive debate on LGBT rights.”
“And on the day of the parade, our ambassador marched in solidarity right next to the mayor of Bratislava,” she said.
Clinton said the State Department was also involved in advocating LGBT rights in Honduras, Uganda, Malawi, Russia, Turkey, China and other places.
She noted the United States’ “major effort” at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to support a statement in ending violence and criminalization based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.” The United States’ Bureau for Western Affairs and its permanent mission to the Organization of American States helped create a special rapporteur for LGBT rights within the Inter-American Commission
for Human Rights.
Ruse said such advocacy is not simply about stopping violence against homosexuals: “They are intent on forcing homosexual ‘marriage’ and homosexual adoption on countries that are offended by such things. They are intent on forcing sexual orientation and gender identity as new categories of non-discrimination that will trump the rights of religious believers.
“On this topic, this administration is far beyond the mainstream.”
He said that most people around the world still understand homosexuality as “outside the norm” and as “something to be avoided and certainly not approved.”
“Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals. The effect of the Obama policy is to offend billions of people and force this view on reluctant governments.
This is most especially offensive to countries that are predominantly Christian and Muslim. In fact, Christianity and Islam are among the chief obstacles of this agenda and policy.”
Marchinda suggested that Clinton’s comments express a “misunderstanding” about the nature of the debate on LGBT rights and that debate’s relationship to state sovereignty and human rights in general.
“It is worrisome that the United States has moved beyond defending the legitimate rights of all people to be free from violence to helping usurp the laws of (United Nations) member states concerning marriage and local regulations pertaining to parades and other events,” she told CNA on June 28.
“U.S. advocacy on these issues promotes a particular definition of human rights that is not accepted by all nations. It is increasingly a Western definition that the U.S. uses to promote its interests abroad and this definition guides its distribution of foreign aid to developing countries.”
Marchinda noted that there is presently no internationally accepted definition of terms like “sexual orientation,” “LGBT” or “gender identity,” though the U.S. continues to use this language in its human-rights work: “This causes confusion among member states of the United Nations and especially among those receiving aid with policy-type strings attached.”
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