Remarks by Ambassador Yamate – LGBT Pride Reception

Chers collègues de corps diplomatique

Thank you so much for joining with us in celebrating the month of June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.

Hosting today’s event is a great honor for me, and I am pleased to be sharing this honor with my co-hosts from the Delegation of the European Union, the embassies of Japan, Switzerland, and Norway, the United Nations, and of course our local partners, la Confédération Nationale des Plates Formes en Droits Humains (CNFPDH) and l’Association Solidarité des MSM à Madagascar.

This year marks the second time that we have marked LGBT month with such a gathering.  It is also the first time that the U.S. Embassy has raised the rainbow banner underneath the American flag as a symbol of our country’s support for the LGBT community.

I’m proud to stand before you today advocating on behalf of the justice, the compassion, and the solidarity with the LGBT community that the rainbow flag represents.

We have received a lot of feedback on social media for our statements regarding our promotion of LGBT Pride month.  There have been encouraging words of support, but there have also been some strong criticisms.

Our Facebook page is open to all comments since, to promote dialogue, we have to accept differing perspectives and work to explain and persuade.

A Facebook question we have heard a lot recently is to ask – what is so proud about being a member of the LGBT community?

I will respond with a statistic, one not unique to the United States. Those struggling with sexual identity questions are four times more likely to try to commit suicide than those who do not struggle with sexual identity.

Why is pride important?  Because it is pride that serves as the antidote to the confusion, the guilt, and the fear of being judged that touch the daily lives of so many in the LGBT community. That is why pride is so important.

The theme of our Pride event this year is “Diversity is our strength.” Both the United States and Madagascar are proudly, brilliantly, radiantly diverse countries, and we are stronger as societies as a result of this blending of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, origins, and sexual orientation.

Our message today is simple: embrace diversity in all its forms.  Just as the LGBT community should stand proud and shun the cloud of biased judgment, we have an obligation to open our hearts and our minds to the additional diversity the LGBT community brings that enriches our societies and makes us stronger.