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No, Hillary Clinton's Campaign Didn't Take Donations from Anti-LGBT Foreign Governments

Hillary Clinton
Andrew Harnik/AP

Get ready to debunk the latest myth about the presidential nominee's record on global LGBT rights.

Have you heard the news? The King of Yemen just paid Hillary Clinton's campaign a billion dollars to make it legal in America to attack gay people. It's all true! Except the part about Hillary Clinton's campaign. And the part about attacking gay people. Also, Yemen doesn't have a king.

So, technically, none of it is true. And yet the rumors just won't die.

During the last few months, I've produced multiple videos about the candidates for President and Vice President -- first one about Donald Trump, then one on Mike Pence, and one about Hillary Clinton. And every single time, the comments are flooded with some variation of "I'm gay, but I'm voting for Trump because Hillary's funded by countries where they execute homosexuals."

OK, calm down everyone. Let's pick this dumb rumor apart.

First, Clinton's campaign isn't funded by Saudi Arabia. Or Yemen. Or even Canada. That's because foreign citizens aren't allowed to donate to American political campaigns, and it's illegal for American campaigns to ask for donations.

And yes, it's true that sometimes a campaign will make a little mistake and accidentally ask for money from foreign leaders. And then, after a warning to knock it off, does it again. And again.

Second, yes, it's true that the Clinton Foundation accepted donations from countries like Saudi Arabia, where people have been executed after being accused of homosexuality. But the Clinton Foundation is a completely different organization from the Hillary Clinton campaign. And the foundation used the donations in part to combat HIV/AIDS, thereby helping countless queer people around the world.

Not to mention, Trump supporters might not want to broach the subject of countries that criminalize homosexuality, because in 2009 Mike Pence expressed sympathy for those countries on the floor of Congress. At the time, the State Department was considering a policy that would "encourage foreign governments to reform or repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality." Mike Pence spoke out against that measure, saying that it "advocates a set of values that are at odds with the majority of the American people."

Of course, in 2009, a majority of Americans did not, in fact, support the criminalization of homosexuality. But the GOP's current nominee for vice president was convinced that they did. Maybe he still does.

Third, even if it was true that Hillary's campaign accepted money from anti-gay powers, then ... what? Are we supposed to fear that she will then invite the King of Yemen who does not exist to come to the United States and attack queer people?

The truth is that unlike the GOP's candidates, Hillary Clinton has a track record of standing up to foreign powers that criminalize homosexuality. When she was secretary of state, she helped the administration craft a policy that cut foreign aid to countries based on mistreatment of LGBTs. She also wrote "we should emphasize LGBT rights" in talks with Iraq, and pushed back hard on Uganda's persecution of queer people. And during her time at the State Department, she launched the Global Equality Fund to improve the lives of LGBT people around the world.

There's another unpleasant side to this rumor: the racist subtext that scary people of color are plotting to harm Americans. And while it's true that there are many countries in the Middle East and Africa where citizens and legislators take a radically homophobic stance, the same is true of this country.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert recently said that child abuse "universally" turns boys gay, and that homosexuality caused Noah's flood. Prominent Christian advocate Rick Scarborough said that flying a pride flag invites the world to call us "the great Satan." And Massachusetts activist Scott Lively said that he hopes for Putin-style anti-homosexuality laws under President Trump.

It's great to be concerned about foreign powers abusing the human rights of LGBT people. But don't turn a blind eye to the harmful rhetoric coming from American citizens.

So let's sum it all up: A foundation that Hillary started accepted money from countries that have a bad track record on civil rights for LGBTs, but used that money to (in part) improve the lives of queer people. And then Hillary went on to withhold foreign aid from anti-gay countries, and pressured them to reform their laws.

So if any of those foreign countries did send money in the hopes of facilitating the persecution of queer people, their investment really did not pay off.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Matt Baume