A Chance to Advance Gay Rights as a Priority of U.S. Foreign Policy

This piece by MYD member Jesús Pérez is cross-posted from The Hunter Word.

Did you know that in 76 countries throughout the world homosexuality is considered a crime? In those countries, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people are routinely harassed, arrested, and imprisoned by the very governments that are supposed to keep them safe. In about 5 of those countries, if you are convicted of the crime of homosexuality, you can receive the death penalty. To help put a stop to these injustices, the Obama administration announced last year, that it would be a priority of U.S. foreign policy to, as the President put it in his address to the UN General Assembly last year, “stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”

I write about this in my essay, “Emerging Equality: Gay Rights as a Priority of U.S. Foreign Policy,” which was recently selected, out of hundreds of submissions, as a finalist in an essay contest organized by Foreign Affairs magazine, a very prominent and prestigious journal on the subject of international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. The winning essay, as determined by a vote on Facebook, will be published on ForeignAffairs.com. By taking just a few seconds to vote, not only will you help raise awareness of this important and often-neglected issue, but you can also contribute to an historic achievement. In its 90-year history, Foreign Affairs magazine has never published an essay about gay rights in a foreign policy context. Your vote can help change that.

I write in my essay, “Emerging Equality: Gay Rights as a Priority of U.S. Foreign Policy,” that some will question the validity of this topic being considered “the stuff of serious foreign affairs.” And judging by some of the comments made about my essay so far, I was right. It is short-sighted to assume that real foreign affairs is limited to discussions of war, territorial disputes, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and the like. We cannot forget that combating anti-gay discrimination touches upon many matters that are also of import to foreign policy: from war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to public health concerns in Botswana, there are many foreign policy implications to antigay discrimination throughout the world that may not be evident to those who conceive of U.S. foreign policy and gay rights as distinct and unrelated concepts. For as the world becomes more diverse and complex, so to will foreign affairs matters become more diverse and complex.

With your vote today for “Emerging Equality: Gay Rights as a Priority of U.S. Foreign Policy,” you can help shine a light on this issue and make history in the process. Your vote would also help prove true our country’s promise to the LGBT men and women of the world, as delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, … please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America.”

Voting ends on Monday, October 1, 2012, so please vote for “Emerging Equality: Gay Rights as a Priority of U.S. Foreign Policy”. And encourage your friends to do the same. Tell them about this by email (an effective approach with a personal touch!); tweet it; or spread the word on Facebook by posting to your profile, sending a private message (another effective approach!), or inviting your friends to the corresponding event. All the pertinent information necessary to vote is in the event description. Like other elections we are watching this year, getting out the vote will be crucial to victory!