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Hillary Clinton’s 2011 speech on the rights of the LGBT community delivered in Geneva, Switzerland during the International Human Rights Day on December 6th sought to inform the world that members of the LGBT deserve to be treated like any other members of the society. Clinton delivered her speech at the UN assembly where heads of states from different countries were gathered. Clinton’s speech must have been informed by the spate of violence against gays and lesbians in various countries. In the speech, Clinton maintained that members of the LGBT are voiceless minorities. As such, they cannot stand for their rights, and any attempt to do so is met by public ridicule and marginalization.
One outstanding feature of Clinton’s speech is its historical background. Before delving into the issue of the rights of the LGBT, Clinton begins her speech by recounting the events that culminated in the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She takes her audience way back in 1947 when the declaration was made. She provides solid and indisputable facts that are a matter of public record. For instance, she mentions how South Africa’s constitution was effective at protecting the rights of Gay people post-apartheid. By doing so, Clinton appeals to her audience’s ethos.
The primary audience of Hilary’s speech was the heads of state and other delegates that had gathered in Geneva for a UN assembly. Clinton targeted these influential individuals because they are the ones responsible for making policies that either create freedoms for members of the LGBT or make them live in fear. On the other side, the secondary audiences of Clinton’s speech were ordinary citizens residing in all corners of the earth. It goes without mentioning that Hillary provides more than enough information that quenches her audiences’ thirst for information. At no point does she digress to concentrate on irrelevant issues.
Clinton had a clear idea of who her audience was. She, therefore, used effective rhetoric techniques to appeal to their logic and emotions. Particularly, she used repetition in her speech to emphasize her points and to drive the point home. For instance, when she repeated the phrase “It is a violation of human rights” in her speech more than five times, she emphasized on the gravity of the issue she was speaking about. By doing so, she managed to capture the attention of her audience.
Most importantly, her emotional appeal was evident in the entire speech. For instance, by asking the question “How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love?” she helped the audience to see the challenges that the gay people encounter on a daily basis as they seek to be recognized as equal members of the society. This question must have stirred emotions of pity and empathy among the members of the audience. What is more, Clinton’s speech is a perfect example of a discrete text. The discourse is clear and not ambiguous.
Clinton’s primary objective was to create awareness about the plight of members of the LGBT community. More so, she used her speech to exhort those in power to create friendly environments where gays and lesbians can live without the fear of being harmed for who they are. If the roaring applause by the members of the UN assembly at the end of the speech is anything to go by, then Clinton achieved her purpose.
I learned about the struggles of the members of LGBT. I was moved by Clinton’s emotions when she was delivering the speech. She did not mince her words when she said that human rights are for all humans, regardless of their sexual orientation. Given that I respect gays and lesbians, I will take every opportunity to educate those around me about the rights of these fellow human beings.
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