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Wednesday
Dec072011

Obama Pushes for More Gay and Lesbian Rights Abroad

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AFP/Getty Images(GENEVA) -- The White House will begin taking a harder look at its allies' treatment of gays and lesbians when reviewing decisions about foreign aid.

In introducing the new policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a conference in Geneva Tuesday, "Gay rights are human rights."

President Obama will direct all U.S. agencies abroad to make certain diplomacy and aid programs "promote and protect" the rights of homosexuals.

The new policy could affect aid to certain governments in the Middle East and Africa now receiving large amounts of U.S. backing.  For instance, same-sex activities are forbidden in Pakistan and Afghanistan, while gays and lesbians can be executed in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the new policy should not be misconstrued since "We are not talking about cutting aid or tying aid, but we are talking about using all of our tools, including assistance, to translate our principles into action."

But Republicans have already come out swinging.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, said, “Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money."

Perry claimed the president is, "at war with people of faith in this country.  Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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