Clinton: Gay rights equal to women's rights

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GENEVA (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is telling other diplomats that cultural practices or religious tradition are no excuse for discriminating, or worse, against gay people.

Making an unusually strong statement in defense of gay rights, Clinton says they are equal to women's rights and racial equality and should be universal human rights. She criticized nations that criminalize gay behavior or tolerate abuse of gay, bisexual or transgendered people, though she did not identify those nations by name.

The Obama administration says it will now make treatment of gays a factor in the awarding of foreign aid.

Clinton's audience in Geneva, home of the United Nations' human rights body, included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations with poor records on gay rights.