White House unveils plan to improve LGBT+ rights around the world

Lily Wakefield May 17, 2021
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Joe Biden. (Getty/ Rick Loomis)

The Biden administration’s State Department has announced its five priorities for improving LGBT+ rights around the globe.

In February, shortly after his inauguration, US president Joe Biden signed a historic memorandum calling for the worldwide protection of LGBT+ rights.

On Friday, 14 May, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told the Washington Blade exactly what this will mean, outlining the administration’s top five priorities for international LGBT+ rights.

Price said: “The United States over the course of years has made some progress, but neither I, nor I think any objective observer, should be satisfied with where we are. There’s a lot more work to do.”

The major issue the State Department plans to address, Price said, is the global decriminalisation of homosexuality, which was “one of the many reasons why” the White House issued February’s memorandum.

He added: “It is one of the many reasons why [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] is so focused on this issue as well.”

The Trump administration claimed to have launched a campaign to decriminalise homosexuality around the world, but human rights experts described it as nothing but a “sham”, and there was little evidence of it ever existing beyond an initial press release.

Price said: “Across the board I generally have a posture of not characterizing the last administration. I’ll leave them to speak to their record.”

The State Department spokesperson also said that another priority would be protecting LGBT+ migrants and asylum seekers.

Price said: “Oftentimes [migration] is about economic opportunity, but there are cases in which it has more to do with discrimination and persecution.

“And so, we recognise that our approach to addressing those underlying drivers has to be holistic, given there are a range of factors and that’s why we’re working with a variety of groups on the ground and also understanding that marginalised communities, including the LGBT+ community, in the region, that there needs to be meaningful partnership there as well.”

Other priorities for the Biden administration when it comes to international LGBT+ rights include responding to human rights abuses against queer people, “protecting human rights and to advance nondiscrimination around the world”, and “building coalitions and engaging international organisations in the fight against this discrimination”.

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