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White House kills off ‘unbalanced’ Trump-era plot to rank religious freedom above LGBT+ rights

Lily Wakefield April 1, 2021
Biden administration secretary of state Antony Blinken at his confirmation hearing

Antony Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 19 January, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Getty/ Alex Edelman-Pool)

Secretary of state Antony Blinken has rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to rank religious freedom above LGBT+ rights.

Blinken rejected the work of Donald Trump’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, which was was formed by the Trump administration in July 2019 to override current US international human rights laws.

Dominated by figures with anti-LGBT+ views, the Commission on Unalienable Rights produced a foreign policy blueprint to “assert a dogmatic version of religious liberty to justify restrictions on reproductive freedom and the rights of LGBT people”, as Human Rights Campaign put it.

In the report it produced a whole year after it was formed the commission mentioned religion and religious freedom 43 times but did not mention protecting LGBT+ rights once. It did however describe LGBT+ rights as “divisive social and political controversies”. The report also ignored reproductive rights.

Speaking Tuesday (30 March) Blinken condemned “unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy” of human rights.

According to AP News, he said in a statement: “One of the core principles of human rights is that they are universal.

“All people are entitled to these rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe, whom they love, or any other characteristic.

“Human rights are also co-equal; there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others.”

Blinken continued: “Past unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy, including those offered by a recently disbanded State Department advisory committee, do not represent a guiding document for this administration.

“At my confirmation hearing, I promised that the Biden-Harris Administration would repudiate those unbalanced views. We do so decisively today.”

As well as vowing to reject the Commission on Unalienable Rights, Blinken made several other promises to the LGBT+ community at his confirmation hearing in January 2021. 

While the position of LGBT+ envoy, which was created to oversee US government efforts to support LGBT+ human rights, was left vacant under Trump, Blinken said appointing someone to the role was a matter of “urgency”.

Blinken also said he would allow all US embassies around the world to fly Pride flags, after Trump banned US embassies from flying them for the entirety of June, 2020.

More: Antony Blinken

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