During a speech at the US State Department on February 4 2021, US President Joe Biden announced a Presidential Memorandum on advancing the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
The memorandum, issued later the same evening, unequivocally states that, “it shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.”
It directs all departments and agencies involved in diplomacy and foreign assistance to combat criminalisation of same-sex relations, protect LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, and combat violence and discrimination. The memorandum outlines concrete actions agencies should take, including working with like-minded nations and international organisations to advance LGBTQ+ equality.
The Presidential Memo issued by Biden has been welcomed by human rights groups.
Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern, comments:
“We celebrate the arrival of President Biden’s presidential memorandum advancing the rights of LGBTQI people globally, its timing indicating that LGBTQI equality is a foreign policy priority from the earliest days of his administration.
“We appreciate its affirmation and expansion of its 2011 predecessor, for the first time naming discrimination based on ‘gender expression’ and ‘sex characteristics’, including ‘queer’ and ‘intersex’ rights, and recognising violence by non-state actors as central to the policy’s scope of concern.
“All governments should explicitly include LGBTQI rights as domestic and foreign policy priorities, but unfortunately most do not. May this policy be the floor not the ceiling, be fully funded and implemented, and inspire other governments to protect LGBTQI people with a holistic strategy based on the principle of dignity. OutRight welcomes the Presidential Memorandum, and we intend to hold the Administration accountable for translating it into action.”
America isn't taking a backseat on LGBTQ rights. @POTUS is going to champion equality around the world. pic.twitter.com/ySCtrwIwyM
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) February 4, 2021
Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign said:
“With [this] presidential memorandum, President Biden and Secretary Blinken recommit the United States to a foreign policy that protects and supports the human rights of LGBTQ people abroad. Around the world, many LGBTQ people still face discrimination, persecution and violence simply for who they are or who they love.
“We applaud the Biden administration and Secretary Blinken for making it clear that the United States is a nation that values LGBTQ people at home and abroad, and is willing to fight to ensure every person is able to live free and equal.”
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