(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama Tuesday signed a presidential memorandum to provide foreign aid to combat discrimination against homosexuals abroad, to use international bodies to promote homosexual rights and to provide asylum for homosexual refugees.
The White House called it the “first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] persons abroad.”
The order affects most executive branch, directing agencies and departments to “combat the criminalization” of homosexuality, “leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination,” to “ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad,” to “protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers,” and to “engage International Organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.”
The memorandum directs the departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the United States Trade Representatives and “other agencies as the President may designate,” to take action on behalf of homosexuals.
“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights,” Obama said in a statement.
The State Department and Homeland Security Department will take action to help homosexual refugees, according to the presidential memorandum.
“In order to improve protection for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBT refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum,” the memorandum says.
“In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively address the protection of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the Federal Government has the ability to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs,” the memorandum continues.
Foreign aid and assistance will also be used to combat discriminatory treatment of homosexuals in other countries, according to the memorandum, which says, “Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.”
The memorandum also stresses that international organizations “are key vehicles to promote respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and to bring global attention to LGBT issues.”
This means these organizations would “counter discrimination on the basis of LGBT status; broaden the number of countries willing to support and defend LGBT issues in the multilateral arena; strengthen the role of civil society advocates on behalf of LGBT issues within and through multilateral fora; and strengthen the policies and programming of multilateral institutions on LGBT issues.”
On the domestic front, Obama signed legislation lifting the ban on gays in the military. Also, his Justice Department decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the Clinton-era law that says one state cannot be required to recognize a homosexual marriage in another state.