Biden commits America to global LGBTQI equality


President Joe Biden confirms that sanctions are among the tools that America will consider using to push for LGBTQI+ equality around the world.

Biden spoke in Washington, D.C. on Thursday about “America’s place in the world” and provided an overview of his administration’s foreign policies, including LGBTQI rights.

“… to further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally,” he said.

In the memo, Biden directed “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”

This includes working to “strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalisation by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct” and “discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct.”

Biden also instructed the Departments of State and Homeland Security to “enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance.”

US agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs must engage with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector “to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and combat discrimination,” including when making funding decisions.

The US will further use its relationships with allies and partners, as well as multilateral fora and international organisations, to “promote respect for and protection of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and to bring global attention to these goals.”

Biden went as far as stating that the US will consider taking steps like financial sanctions, visa restrictions and “other actions” when “foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance.”

Since taking office, President Biden has made a concerted effort to reverse his predecessor’s anti LGBTQI policies. This includes issuing an executive order to ensure that the federal government does not discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation, ending the Trump ban on transgender personnel in the military and appointing two LGBTQI individuals to his administration; Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary and Dr Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

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