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The Obama administration on Tuesday rolled out a wide-ranging plan to use U.S. foriegn aid to promote rights for gays and lesbians around the globe.
The Associated Press reports that, in a new executive memorandum, President Obama directed the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other U.S. agencies working abroad to use foreign aid to assist homosexuals who are facing human rights violations. The initiative also includes measures to combat attempts by foreign governments to make homosexuality a crime.
According to a 2010 study by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, more than 70 nations prosecute people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, seven of which list the death penalty as a possible punishment for same-sex acts.
"The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Obama said in a statement.
The AP with more: "The order also directs U.S. government agencies to use foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance non-discrimination, and work with international organizations to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians."
While Obama has so far stopped short of advocating for legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S., his administration has taken a number of steps that have won the favor of gay rights groups ahead of next year's election, including bringing an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell and announcing that it would no longer defend the controversial Defense of Marriage Act.