‘Extreme’ anti-LGBT+ author tapped by Trump ally to lead US state broadcaster Voice of America into the Biden era
Robert R Reilly, a notorious anti-LGBT+ writer, has been appointed to lead the US state-funded broadcaster Voice of America.
Voice of America is an international broadcaster funded by US congress, which produces digital, TV radio content in 47 languages, and according to its charter, aims to be “accurate, objective, and comprehensive”.
But in Trump’s final few weeks in office, the reins of Voice of America have been handed to Reilly by Trump loyalist Michael Pack, CEO of the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees the broadcaster.
Reilly, 74, has been outspoken about his anti-LGBT+ views, most notably in his 2014 book Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything.
In it, he decried the “legitimisation of homosexual behaviour” which he said was equal to “habitual moral failure”, and insisted: “‘Coming out of the closet’ can mean only an assent at the level of moral principle to what would otherwise be considered morally disordered.”
He also claimed that “the debate over homosexuality is really about the nature of reality itself” and that to accept LGBT+ rights is to “say that the bad is good”.
Reilly has also been openly Islamophobic, previously publishing another book titled The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis.
Amanda Bennett, who worked as the director of Voice of America until this year, described Reilly as “dangerous”.
In a piece for the Washington Post, she wrote: “I never would — and never have in previous positions — spoken out against my successor. A new administration has the right to a new director, even one with whom I might disagree.
“But this is not normal. Reilly is a dangerous choice. His views are not conservative — they are extreme. As head of one of America’s most powerful voices to the world, he risks causing reputational damage that will be hard to repair.”
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Bennett added: “Imagine how Reilly’s views will be greeted by governments in countries that ostracise or even murder gays.”
In a statement to NPR, Grant Turner, the former US Agency for Global Media Acting CEO, said: “I really implore people across the political spectrum to read some of the hate-filled and dehumanising things Robert Reilly has written about gay people.
“It’s mean-spirited, sexually explicit, and just plain weird.”
Turner, who is gay, added: “There is tremendous potential damage to VOA’s mission with a person like Robert Reilly in charge.
“The last thing this guy should be doing is running a respected news organisation.”
According to NBC, language included in a recent defence spending bill could make it difficult for the Biden administration to replace Reilly, requiring the US Agency for Global Media CEO (expected to be a new appointee) to seek approval from an advisory board.