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United Nations says U.S. anti-LGBTQ+ laws violate its human rights’ agreements

numerous flag poles bearing the flags of different world countries line the walkway to the United Nation's building on a sunny day
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A United Nations committee says it’s “deeply concerned” that the United States’ discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ+ people has caused the U.S. to violate a human rights agreement that it signed in 1992.

In a periodic review of U.S. human rights, the U.N. Human Rights Committee identified 29 different “matters of concern” that violate the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Among them, the committee cited bans on gender-affirming healthcare and LGBTQ+ discussions in schools, violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, and poor hate crime data collection, Them reported.

The committee also criticized the U.S. for not doing enough to address racist policing practices, the murder and kidnapping of Native American women, the criminalization of homelessness, extra-judicial drone killings committed abroad, and violence in U.S. territories.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Michele Taylor told the committee that the U.S. will “pledge to do more,” adding, “The topics raised are often painful for all of us to discuss,” the Associated Press reported. However, Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights program at the American Civil Liberties Union, criticized Taylor’s “scripted, general, and often meaningless responses” to the committee, noting, “At times it seemed that AI-generated responses would have been more qualitative.”

A group of 140 activists travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to protest the United States’ human rights abuses amid the committee’s two-day review. The activists came from across the U.S. — including Guam, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii — in support of LGBTQ+, indigenous and reproductive rights, and anti-discrimination protections. The activists walked out of the committee’s review after feeling disappointed by U.S. officials’ “deflecting” the committee’s questions.

“Stonewall – as usual,” said Ki’I Kaho’ohanohano, a Hawaiian midwife and reproductive rights activist. “Again we don’t have any responses, and it’s very infuriating.”

In September, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) spoke at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, saying, “We are seeing increasingly coordinated efforts to undermine progress on human rights of LGBTQI+ persons worldwide, while seemingly targeted at a small slice of the population.” She noted that, in the U.S., “We are seeing hateful shameful attacks on and against the LGBTQI+ persons, especially against LGBTQI children,” The Washington Blade reported.

In his speech to the Assembly, President Joe Biden mentioned that Republicans are threatening to end the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an HIV-prevention program launched in 2003 that has saved 25 million lives in 55 different countries.

Journalist Anne-Christine d’Adesky, who also spoke at the General Assembly in September, said, “The anti-LGBTQ forces, which are the family values [supporters] in the GOP and the extreme right, have been using this issue of HIV funding and HIV programs as a kind of proxy… to go after democratic societies, not just here in the United States, but everywhere,” noting that Uganda’s recently passed Anti-Homosexuality Act was organized and supported by U.S. evangelical groups. “It’s a very deliberate strategy to link the issue of LGBTQ rights and homosexuality with HIV service provision.”

Last year, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the U.N. Independent Expert on protection against LGBTQ+ violence and discrimination, said, “Despite five decades of progress, equality is not within reach, and often not even within sight, for all persons impacted by violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States…. The evidence shows that, without exception, these actions rely on prejudiced and stigmatizing views of LGBT persons, in particular transgender children and youth, and seek to leverage their lives as props for political profit.”

“The Biden-Harris administration has adopted powerful and meaningful actions that are in conformity with international human rights law, reveal a thoughtful strategy created through participative approaches, and provide significant capacity for their implementation. This is exactly the combination of values, knowledge, and muscle that can drive social change,” he said of the current presidential administration.

“In light of a concerted attack to undermine these actions, I exhort the administration to redouble its efforts to support the human rights of all LGBT persons living under its jurisdiction, and helping them to safe waters,” he added.

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