A top aide to President Barack Obama Tuesday singled out nations including Russia, Uganda and Brunei as the worst transgressors against gay rights -- and warned governments everywhere must outlaw discrimination.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice told a forum of Lesbian, Gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) activists at the White House that the choice to love a partner of the same sex was a fundamental human right.
"In many places, allies and supporters of the LGBT community are also penalized," Rice said.
"New laws in Uganda and Nigeria incite the fear of arrest and detention for those who provide health services or defend basic legal rights in court.
"In addition to the pernicious so-called 'propaganda' law already on the books, proposed legislation in Russia would allow the government to take children away from their gay parents," Rice warned.
"In seven countries -- eight, if Brunei continues on its path -- same-sex acts are punishable by death."
Rice said that laws limiting gay rights around the world often have strong public support and that it was up to local authorities to ensure that cultural differences did not become an excuse for human rights violations.
"Governments are responsible for protecting the rights of all citizens, and it is incumbent upon the state, and upon each of us, to foster tolerance and reverse the tide of discrimination."
Obama has made a point of putting the fight for LGBT rights around the world at the center of US foreign policy.
Washington for instance, last week cancelled a military air exercise, imposed visa bans and froze some aid to Uganda over what it said was the country's "vile" anti-gay laws.
Last year, while on a trip to Senegal, Obama told Africans that people should be treated equally under the law whatever their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
In February, Obama included gay athletes in the US delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics to show the United States would not abide discrimination in international sport.
The move followed a warning by a senior Russian official that athletes or spectators should not promote gay rights during the Olympics following the passage of controversial anti-gay legislation in Russia.