The Associated Press:

The Obama administration’s declaration that it plans to use foreign assistance, international diplomacy and political asylum to promote gay rights abroad is a momentous step that could dangerously backfire if not pursued with delicacy and an appreciation of how the challenges faced by gays and lesbians vary by nation, human rights activists said.

President Barack Obama, in a memorandum to executive departments, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a speech before the U.N. Human Rights Council, issued a coordinated denunciation Tuesday of anti-gay discrimination, stating that equal treatment of gay, lesbian and transgender people was an explicit U.S. foreign policy goal.

The White House said the twin moves represented the U.S. government’s first comprehensive strategy to combat sexual orientation-based human rights abuses around the world. Gay rights groups cheered the actions, noting that gays and lesbians can be arrested, tortured and even executed in some countries.

Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, a group that monitors religious organizations with anti-gay views, listed Russia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Iran and Zimbabwe among the nations that had recently “declared war on sexual minorities” and said that he hoped they would be chastened by the administration’s blunt talk.

“This was one of those times where our nation demonstrated true international leadership and made me incredibly proud to be an American,” Besen said. “There were no carefully crafted and focus grouped code words that sugarcoated the abuses — just the honest truth spoken from the heart.”