LGBT+ Rights Advocates call Trump’s pledge ‘a lie’

US President Donald Trump addresses the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) at UN headquarters in New York City, September 24, 2019 – Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

US President Donald Trump pledged this week to help end the criminalisation of homosexuality globally, but LGBT+ rights advocates took a dim view of his speech at the United Nations, accusing him of rolling back protections at home.

Trump, in his address to world leaders on Tuesday, said:

“We stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people who live in countries that punish, jail or execute individuals based upon sexual orientation.”

Same-sex relations are illegal in 69 countries, almost half of them in Africa, where homosexuality remains largely taboo, and persecution is rife.

Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and parts of Nigeria impose the death penalty, while Botswana decriminalised same-sex relations in June.

Rights advocates in the United States said Trump’s administration has done little to support LGBT+ people, and has in several cases reversed some hard-fought rights.

Trump’s administration has banned transgender people from the US military, cut funding for HIV and AIDS research, and supported the right of medical providers and adoption agencies to deny services to LGBT+ people.

“Donald Trump’s words at the UN do not just ring hollow – they are an unadulterated lie. His administration has done nothing to protect LGBTQ people at home or abroad,” said Zeke Stokes of the US gay rights group, GLAAD, in an email.

Trump has not challenged the views of Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, a self-proclaimed “proud homophobe,” nor responded to allegations that LGBT+ people in Chechnya are detained and tortured, he said.

“He was silent,” Stokes said.

Trump said in a tweet marking LGBT+ Pride Month in June that his administration had launched a global campaign to decriminalise homosexuality, and invited other nations to join.

But rights advocates note his administration has argued, in three cases before the US Supreme Court, that a law barring companies from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex does not cover LGBT+ people.

Vice President, Mike Pence, is a social and evangelical conservative, who, in 2015, as governor of Indiana, signed into law a religious freedom bill that would have allowed businesses to deny services to LGBT+ people. The law was later revised.

“It is abundantly clear the Trump and Pence do not care about LGBTQ people,” Charlotte Clymer, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT+ group, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

She pointed to the murders of at least 18 trans people this year in the United States, saying:

“That continues to go unaddressed by the Trump administration.”

The president still gets support from the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBT+ group that endorsed his reelection campaign in August.

“President Trump’s leadership on this issue is heartening during a time when our LGBTQ brothers and sisters abroad still face life-threatening discrimination,” the group’s chairman Robert Kabel said in an email.

In its endorsement, the Log Cabin Republicans applauded Trump for “removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.”

“Since taking office, President Trump has followed through on many of his commitments to the United States, including taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community,” the group said.

-Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage – Thomson Reuters Foundation

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