Clinton called for a "global consensus" that recognizes the human rights of the LGBT community everywhere during a speech Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland, in observance of International Human Rights Day.
"Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same," said Clinton.
"It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave," she added.
Clinton said she understood that raising the issues of gay rights is sensitive to many people and cultures, but argued it is too important not to address.
President Obama announced Tuesday a new initiative to promote rights for and prevent laws targeting gays and lesbians abroad.
Obama released a memorandum directing federal agencies to use foreign aid dollars to combat the criminalization of homosexuality, protect LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, and respond to human-rights abuses in foreign countries.
"The Obama administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human-rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy," said Clinton.
For more on the Obama administration's initiative, click here.
—Justin Sink contributed