SPEECHES, REMARKS & STATEMENTS IN 2012
Chargé d’Affaires Brian C. Aggeler Remarks at Viewing of “Stonewall Uprising” June 27, 2012
Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great pleasure to be here today with you to view this important video documentary film which revisits a time not so long ago when homosexual acts were illegal and seen as a form of mental illness. The documentary explores the events of June 28, 1969. As many of you may know, that day the police raided a homosexual refuge in New York called Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village, where gay men and women fled to escape police entrapment and public violence. For the first time, the gay men and women fought back against the establishment, and the Stonewall incident launched a world-wide human rights movement that continues to this day.
Around the world much progress has been made since then. Macedonia, for example, decriminalized homosexuality in 1996, well before it was fully decriminalized in all parts of the United States in 2003. In 2011, the UN passed its first resolution recognizing the human rights of gay people worldwide, accepting that it is time to work towards a global consensus to recognize the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people. And last year, in recognition of International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared unequivocally that gay rights are human rights; human rights are gay rights. In December, President Obama stated that the struggle to end discrimination against LGBT persons is a global challenge, one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promote human rights.
We are working to build on the momentum generated by those clear declarations. For example, the U.S. Embassy in Skopje recently sent three LGBT NGO representatives to Tirana for the first U.S. Government-sponsored regional conference on LGBT human rights. We are supporting projects through small grants and exchange visits to the U.S. to raise awareness and combat stigmatization. We hope to have more activities such as this one to strengthen our ties with, and support to the LGBT community in Macedonia.
Unfortunately, despite the significant progress that we have seen many LGBT people around the world are still denied their basic rights. They are harassed, fired from their jobs, or denied health care simply because of their choice of partner or sexual orientation. As this documentary will show, America’s own record on LGBT equality is far from perfect. Even now, for many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.
As Secretary Clinton put it, the idea is simple: all people deserve to be treated with dignity and have their human rights respected, no matter who they are or whom they love. There is still, as you all know, much more to be done to make that simple idea a reality for all people. With that goal in mind, the United States Embassy looks forward to a fruitful partnership with all of you here today. Together we can make a real difference in addressing this important human rights issue.