Biden signs historic global LGBT rights memo
President Joe Biden has signed a historic global LGBT rights memo, which would have the US support the rights of LGBT people worldwide as part of it foreign policy moving forward.
Biden made the announcement of the presidential memorandum during a speech at the State Department and builds on a 2011 directive that was issued by then-President Barack Obama.
During his term, Obama had directed US agencies abroad to promote LGBT rights globally. During the term of President Donald Trump, he had ignored this directive.
Global LGBT rights memo to repair US moral leadership
The memo directs executive departments and US agencies operating abroad to “promote and protect the human rights of lesbians, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere.”
“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,” Biden said at the State Department.
He added, “We’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals, included by combating criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers.”
In the memo, it states that US policy will “pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.”
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” the memo says.
The US, the memo further notes, will lead by example in advancing LGBT human rights around the world.
What does the global LGBT rights memo mean?
The type of memo signed by Biden is usually considered a symbolic gesture. However, this memo may have tangible consequences for nations that commit human rights abuses against LGBT people.
For one, the memo states that the US will consider who benefits and how much from its Foreign Assistance Act when considering any anti-LGBT actions by other countries.
Likewise, the memo says the US will respond to these abuses using the “the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”
Further, it says that the Departments of State and Homeland Security will “ensure that LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum.”
More importantly, the memo rescinds any directives by President Donald Trump that would contravene this memo to US agencies operating abroad.
State of LGBT rights worldwide during the Biden term
The memo will have a lot to contend with, given that there around 80 countries around the world that have laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults, according to Human Rights Watch.
Biden had told the State Department that he will “reinvigorate our leadership on LGBTQI issues and to do it internationally.”
This is because, he said, defending the rights the world over will “ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America.”
The US “cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage,” he declared.