President Joe Biden called on the world to do more to protect LGBTQ people while addressing the U.N. General Assembly this week, which angered gay conservatives in the U.S.
“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear, whether it’s Chechnya, or Cameroon, or anywhere,” Biden said this past Tuesday in his speech, referring to two specific countries that have made international headlines for state-sanctioned anti-LGBTQ arrests, internments, and violence in the recent past.
“As we pursue diplomacy across the board, the United States will champion the democratic values that go to the very hear of who we are as a nation and a people – freedom, equality, opportunity, and a belief in the universal rights of all people,” he said, putting LGBTQ rights in the context of human rights.
The LGBTQ organization Human Rights Campaign thanked Biden for bringing up the anti-LGBTQ violence.
Thank you, @POTUS, for recognizing the urgent need to protect members of the LGBTQI community abroad, especially in countries where there is a threat of danger from their government and extremist groups in your speech to the @UN. pic.twitter.com/JZsvUv5kWf
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) September 21, 2021
The Log Cabin Republicans – an organization for LGBTQ Republicans – immediately issued a statement denouncing Biden for calling on the world to defend LGBTQ rights without mentioning Donald Trump.
“President Trump pushed an historic and unprecedented campaign at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world,” Log Cabin President Charles Moran said. “Sadly, President Biden addressed the U.N. today and tragically failed to mention the Decriminalization campaign at all.”
“President Biden could have created an uncomfortable moment for those countries in attendance who criminalize us; instead, he prioritized applause over principle, which helps no one,” he said.
Trump’s supposed campaign to decriminalize homosexuality was announced by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell in 2019 and resulted in no successes and almost no action. International human rights activists said that they weren’t aware of anything that the campaign did, saying that it didn’t even provide funding to local LGBTQ activists who could use resources as they work for reform in their countries and that the U.S. was already opposed to the criminalization of homosexuality before Trump took office anyway.
In fact, the most public action taken as part of the decriminalization campaign was an optional panel at a U.N. conference in 2019 that Trump did not attend. But the Trump administration made sure that U.S. pastor Johnnie Moore attended, and Moore has called “homosexual experimentation” an “epidemic,” said that Katy Perry will “alter the healthy development of our nation’s kids” by turning them gay, and supported the ban on transgender servicemembers in the military.
Moreover, Trump didn’t seem to be aware of the decriminalization campaign when asked about it, and Grenell himself threw a temper tantrum when reporters tried to ask him about the campaign after The Daily Beast reported that it wasn’t doing anything.
Instead of doing anything to decriminalize homosexuality, the Trump administration spent years trying to rework the international human rights framework so that religious freedom held more importance than LGBTQ rights. The Biden administration has already taken steps to dismantle Trump’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, which was comprised of anti-LGBTQ activists, and the Biden State Department has allowed U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow flag again, even in countries that criminalize homosexuality.
Moran also castigated out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg: “His silence on gays and lesbians being hunted down in Afghanistan and his inability to impact President Biden to prioritize Decriminalization at the UN is a growing problem.”
Only Republican lawmakers voted against a bill to make it easier for Afghani refugees to seek asylum in the U.S. Also, the Department of Transportation doesn’t have any authority over immigration or foreign policy.