Trump’s new religious freedom ambassador uses religion to attack LGBT people
Donald Trump’s new ambassador for religious freedom has a history of attacking LGBT people, often justifying his actions through religious freedom.
Sam Brownback, who needed Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote to be confirmed in the Senate, repeatedly promoted homophobic and transphobic policies in his seven years as Governor of Kansas.
The US is currently embroiled in a battle between so-called religious liberty and LGBT people that centres on whether homophobic Christians should have the ability to discriminate against gay people.
Last week, Trump sparked anger with a Religious Freedom Day proclamation in which he gave his support to anyone using their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBT people.
Last month, his administration told the Supreme Court that it should be acceptable for businesses to put up signs denying service to same-sex couples.
And Brownback’s appointment is another kick in the teeth for LGBT people in the US.
He replaced it with a new executive order, removing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of protected characteristics.
The measure stopped the state’s government from taking action against taxpayer-funded organisations which denied services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.
No wonder the Trump administration likes him.
He proposed that a birth certificate could only be updated if someone’s parents could prove that it was incorrectly recorded at birth.
Last year, after the US voted against a UN Human Rights Council measure which condemned the use of the death penalty for homosexuality, Brownback was questioned about the issue.
During his confirmation session, he was asked: “Is there any circumstance under which criminalising, imprisoning, or executing people based on their LGBT status could be deemed acceptable because somebody asserts that they are religiously motivated in doing so?”
He declined to make an explicit condemnation.
“I don’t know what that would be, in what circumstance, but I would continue the policies that have been done in the prior administration in working on these international issues,” said Brownback.
The Human Rights Campaign has strongly condemned the appointment, noting that Trump has filled his administration with anti-LGBT officials.
HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said: “For decades, Sam Brownback has attacked the LGBTQ community and worked to undermine fairness and equality.
“His extremist, anti-LGBTQ actions should disqualify him from representing the people of the United States.”
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He added: “Donald Trump and Mike Pence are stacking the administration with anti-LGBTQ politicians determined to carry out their harmful and discriminatory policies.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate has chosen to confirm Brownback’s nomination.”
GLAAD also spoke out against the move.
“There is a vast difference between combating the real and horrific persecution facing religious minorities across the globe and Brownback’s own record of distorting religious freedom to promote anti-LGBTQ discrimination,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the organisation’s president.
“Brownback now joins the ranks of an administration fully committed to promoting religious exemptions as a weapon of discrimination against LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities.”