Hillary Clinton has called on Donald Trump to condemn the reported “gay purge” in Chechnya, saying: “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
She originally used the phrase – which has been seen at many rallies since Trump’s election – as Secretary of State, standing in the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva, in 2011.
It drew the loudest cheer on a night full of standing ovations, as Clinton spoke at a fundraising dinner for The Centre, an LGBT community group in New York.
The political veteran, who was receiving the organisation’s Trailblazer Award, told the audience: “I know that the election hit a lot of us hard.”
But she urged them to keep fighting the good fight, saying: “Even when it feels tempting to pull the covers over your head, please keep going.”
This was especially important now, she said, as “we’re seeing clouds gathering on the horizon” for the LGBT community.
In a glimpse of what might have been, she condemned in no uncertain terms the “gay purge” in Chechnya which has reportedly seen more than 100 men detained and at least three killed.
“We’ve heard terrifying accounts from Chechnya of gay and bisexual men being taken from their homes and families, tortured, even killed,” she said.
“The United States government – yes, this government – should demand an end to the persecution of innocent people.”
When it came to issues closer to home, she warned that “the progress that we fought for…that we celebrated and maybe even (took) for granted may not be as secure as we once expected.”
In March, the Trump administration revoked guidance introduced by the Obama administration which protected trans students in public schools.
Clinton said that “when this administration rescinded protections for transgender students, my heart broke.
“I thought of all our efforts to try to achieve an AIDS-free generation, and we were on the way,” she said regretfully.
But there was still hope, she added.
“We can, if we stay on that path, finally realise that dream – but not if we are forced off.”
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She urged the crowd to accept the reality of their situation, under a president who just yesterday met Ted Nugent in the White House, a former musician who has said gay sex is “against nature”.
She said: “I think we have to face the fact that we may not ever be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBT issues.
“Let’s remember, 2018, the midterm elections…we can never stop fighting.”
Clinton joked that she had been forced to deal with a difficult dilemma on the evening: attending the fundraising event or seeing Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
“I really struggled to figure out which event would best reflect my commitment to the community,” she said.
She told the crowd she had come up with a compromise: she had obeyed the title of a song from the musical – Put On Your Sunday Clothes – and come to the dinner.
The former First Lady had come up with a new mantra, which she said was “the kind of thing that does pop into your head when you’re out in the woods.
“When a good friend or loved one says: ‘Quit yelling at the television set,’ just remember: we need to resist, insist, persist and enlist.”