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Trump administration will push anti-gay “natural law” with new human rights panel

"Natural law" is frequently used by anti-LGBTQ organizations to justify discrimination

Donald Trump — Photo: Gage Skidmore

The Trump administration will push anti-gay “natural law” as part of a new State Department advisory panel.

The Commission on Unalienable Rights will offer Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “fresh thinking” on international human rights, according to a department release issued Thursday, Politico reports.

“The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” the release states.

However, the inclusion of “natural law” in the panel’s definition has led to alarm bells from activists, who fear it could be used to justify discriminating against LGBTQ people.

Natural law is a frequent buzzword of the religious right, used to imply (or outright state) that LGBTQ people go against the laws of nature — and thus God.

It has also cropped up in arguments against same-sex marriage, with conservatives branding heterosexual marriages “natural marriage.”

A bill in Tennessee introduced in February sought to overturn the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, with Republicans who sponsored the legislation arguing that Tennessee must “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman, regardless of any court decision to the contrary.”

Last year, Republicans in South Carolina introduced legislation that would have branded same-sex marriages as “parody marriage,” arguing that marriage between a man and a woman “arose out of the nature of things… [and] is natural, neutral, and noncontroversial, unlike parody forms of marriage.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Pompeo said the new panel would look at how the department “[connects] up what it is we’re trying to achieve throughout the world, and how do we make sure that we have a solid definition of human rights upon which to tell all our diplomats around the world.”

Pompeo said that the panel was separate from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

“But it is deeply connected to the work that not only DRL does but that the entire State Department does around the world,” Pompeo added.

However, Politico’s Nahal Toosi tweeted that a DRL official said the bureau was “not told about these plans ahead of time.”

The ACLU told Pompeo to keep his “hands off our human rights,” in a tweet.

“It’s very troubling that an administration that violates our basic rights daily is planning to create an advisory commission to redefine international human rights,” ACLU said.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at

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