President Obama took an opportunity during his European tour to stand up for LGBT rights, as he addressed the topic and condemned Russia’s antigay policies in a speech Wednesday in Brussels.
Speaking to about 2,000 European young people at the Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Obama promoted the values of acceptance and equality, saying, “We believe in human dignity — that every person is created equal, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or who you love, or where you come from.”
Later, he added, “Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights. Instead of defining ourselves in opposition to others, we can affirm the aspirations that we hold in common. That’s what will make America strong. That’s what will make Europe strong. That’s what makes us who we are.”
The speech came a day before Obama’s meeting with Pope Francis, but early reports from that session indicate LGBT rights did not come up, although the president and the pope did touch on differences over the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, something to which U.S. Catholic leaders have objected.
Watch Obama’s full Wednesday address below.