There is some that is commendable and much that is pernicious in Secretary Clinton’s speech Tuesday announcing that the United States will be making “LGBT rights” — that is, the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered persons — “a priority of our foreign policy” and a factor in determining the uses of “foreign assistance.”
Support for human rights has a place in foreign policy, albeit a subordinate one. Among those rights, certainly, is the right of homosexuals to be free from violent attacks and other draconian punishments. As Clinton rightly notes, if there are fundamental rights at all (and the foundational premise of this republic is that there are) then they “are not conferred by the government,” but ours “because we are human.” The secretary then goes on to claim that human rights and gay rights are “one and the same,” which we suppose is true insofar as the latter collapses into the former. What we don’t understand is how Clinton’s view — that being human vests us with certain rights — entails or even is compatible with a second set of rights that one enjoys by virtue of being homosexual. When Clinton says, “It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation,” no recourse is required to a gay right. The words “because of their sexual orientation” are superfluous. When she says that the horrors of “corrective” rape against women who are suspected of being homosexual are violations of a right, to what right could she be referring besides the right not to be raped, simpliciter?
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