USAID’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Coordinating Committee hosted a screening last Friday of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s historic speech on LGBT Human Rights.

In her landmark speech made at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Secretary Clinton marked Human Rights Day 2011 by affirming that any definition of human rights must include sexual orientation and gender identity and that the Obama Administration would defend the human rights of LGBT people as part of the United States Government’s comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of American foreign policy.

In her speech, the Secretary stated, “Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do.”

She continued, by reminding the audience that, “progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. We need to ask ourselves, ‘How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself that I cannot change?’ This challenge applies to all of us as we reflect upon deeply held beliefs, as we work to embrace tolerance and respect for the dignity of all persons, and as we engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding.”

Following the screening, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg was joined by USAID’s LGBT Coordinator Beth Salamanca and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Dan Baer in a panel discussion.  The conversation focused on both the rights-based approach as well as the practical advantages of an inclusive approach toward foreign assistance and development.

Deputy Administrator Steinberg noted that “promoting LGBT rights is not just a question of fairness but it is also a matter of effectiveness.  The work of development experts is done more comprehensively and successfully when we ensure full inclusion and equality for all, including – people with disabilities, indigenous groups, women, and the LGBT community.”

Deputy Administrator Steinberg concluded the panel discussion by recognizing the efforts of Beth Salamanca and the entire USAID LGBT Coordinating Committee for their work in this area as well as recognizing and thanking GLIFAA (Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) for their support in advancing LGBT equality around the world and in the work place.

Watch Secretary Clinton’s full speech on YouTube