Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

In what LGBT equality advocates are heralding as a remarkable and historic speech, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today told diplomats from around the world that LGBT rights are universal human rights, equal to women’s rights and racial equality, and that the United States, under the administration of President Barack Obama, will from now on take a country’s treatment of its LGBT citizens into consideration when making decisions on awarding foreign aid to that country.

Clinton delivered the speech before a gathering at the United Nations in Geneva, home of the U.N.’s human rights body.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said that with today’s speech Clinton “distinguished herself as a legendary champion of rights for all people.”  With her “remarkable speech,” Solmonese added, Clinton “showed the power of American leadership that calls on the world to live up to the idea that all people are entitled to basic human rights and dignity. There is no question that the administration’s record of advancing equality for LGBT people has been enhanced by the leadership of Secretary Clinton.”

In a statement released shortly after the speech, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey thanked Clinton for “taking to the world stage to send the unequivocal message that LGBT people everywhere should be able to live freely and with dignity.”

Clinton’s speech, Carey added, “made it clear that the fair and equal treatment of LGBT people worldwide is a moral imperative and a priority and legitimate concern in U.S. foreign policy.”

Clinton delivered her address shortly after the White House Press Office released a statement announcing that President Obama had sent out a presidential memorandum instructing U.S. diplomatic officers and agencies to “promote and protect” the rights of LGBT persons abroad.

We will publish the full transcript of Secretary Clinton’s speech as soon as it becomes available to us.