The Chairman of a Republican House subcommittee on human rights is under fire for his claim that gay rights are not human rights.
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith earlier this week announced gay rights are not human rights. "I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and I do not construe homosexual rights as human rights," Smith said. He also suggested thatÂ the Obama administrationâ€™s "views on LGBT rights affected or hindered our support for Nigeria to defeat Boko Haram."Â
The conservative Republican from New Jersey is now under attack by LGBT groups in his home state and nationally, by the Human Rights Campaign.
Heightening the impact of his anti-gay statement is that Rep. Smith is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, and made his comments at a meeting of that subcommittee, which is a part of theÂ House Foreign Affairs Committee.Â
Congressman Smith's remarks were made on Wednesday, perhaps ironically, during a hearing he chaired on Nigeria. That same day, Nigerian law enforcement arrested twelveÂ men accused of holding a same-sex wedding.Â
â€œItâ€™s simple: LGBT rights are human rights. Itâ€™s shocking thatÂ SmithÂ â€” or anyone in his position â€” would make such close-minded comments to the contrary,â€ saidÂ ChrisÂ Hillmann, Co-Chair of the New Jersey DemocraticÂ LGBT Caucus. â€œFor a person in his position to dehumanize such a large segment of our society and to suggest that members of the LGBT community are creating hurdles for U.S. diplomats is appalling on so many levels. RepresentativeÂ SmithÂ should apologize for trying to pit some peopleâ€™s human rights against those of others.â€
Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, called it "unconscionable" that "Representative Smith would not only object to the basic human rights of LGBT people, but argue that their rights should not be part of the administrationâ€™s policy in Nigeria." HRC has given Smith a rating of "0."
New Jersey LGBT activist Jay Lassiter framed the anti-gay Congressman's comments, noting that inÂ "Chris Smithâ€™s world we donâ€™t construe gays rights with human rights, but weÂ doÂ conflate supporting gays with somehow enabling terrorism."
UPDATE - 1:50 PM EST: Rep. Smith receivedÂ $10,000 from the anti-gay hate groupÂ Family Research Council in the 2014 election cycle.
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