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A new report has found that the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in the United States rose 43% year-on-year between 2018 and 2019.
Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that tracks hate groups in the U.S., found that the number of anti-LGBTQ groups rose from 49 to 70, despite an overall decrease in the number of hate groups, NBC News reports.
“Despite a slight decline from the all-time high of 1,020 hate groups in 2018, the SPLC documented an increase in the number of white nationalist, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant hate groups,” SPLC’s report states.
But a gay White House spokesman dismissed SPLC as a “far-left smear organization” and called comments in the report tying Trump to the rise in hate groups “disgusting.”
In the report, SPLC notes that Donald Trump has embraced figures that espouse anti-LGBTQ views, and suggests that the actions of the Trump administration have allowed anti-LGBTQ hate groups to proliferate.
“Anti-LGBTQ groups have become intertwined with the Trump administration, and — after years of civil rights progress and growing acceptance among the broader American public — anti-LGBTQ sentiment within the Republican Party is rising,” SLPC’s report states. “Groups that vilify the LGBTQ community, in fact, represented the fastest-growing sector among hate groups in 2019.”
SPLC notes that although Trump “promised during his campaign to be a ‘real friend’ to the LGBTQ community, he has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their agenda of dismantling federal protections and resources for LGBTQ people,” pointing to the Department of Justice having filed “amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in support of anti-LGBTQ lawsuits, some of which were brought by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.”
“Staffers from organizations that vilify the LGBTQ community have been hired by the Trump administration and have influenced and written its policies,” SPLC continues. “Numerous protections for LGBTQ people have been removed through executive action, as when the Interior Department stripped ‘sexual orientation’ from its anti-discrimination guidelines this year. In addition, the administration has consistently claimed that laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex do not apply to LGBTQ people and has worked to install religious exemptions to civil rights laws.
“According to a report by Lambda Legal, a third of the more than 50 U.S. circuit court judges nominated by Trump have a ‘demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ bias,” SPLC adds. “Lambda argues that the justice system is ‘now indisputably in a state of crisis.'”
SPLC also offered some predictions for the future in its report, including the continued push for anti-LGBTQ policies — something that continues in Republican-led states despite the COVID-19 pandemic — as well as the potential for “more crossover between anti-LGBTQ groups and anti-trans feminist groups in their quest to further marginalize trans people.”
In a statement to NBC News, Judd Deere, Trump’s special assistant and deputy press secretary, called SLPC a “far-left smear organization” and called its comments about the Trump administration “disgusting.”
Deere, who is gay, said that, rather than enable anti-LGBTQ hate groups, Trump has “fought for inclusion and repeatedly condemned hate and violence.”
Instead, he put blame on the “radical left,” claiming that it has “pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened.”
“[The] president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies and ambassadorships,” Deere told NBC News. “He launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality…. And the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years.”
Deere did not specifically respond to Trump’s embrace of anti-LGBTQ figures, nor his attendance at events sponsored by anti-LGBTQ groups.
He also didn’t comment directly on the Trump administration’s numerous anti-LGBTQ actions since Trump took office in 2017, including proposing eliminating healthcare protections for transgender people, creating a commission to examine human rights that’s filled with anti-LGBTQ figures, banning transgender people from serving in the military, and banning U.S. embassies from flying Pride flags.
The Trump administration has also allowed adoption and fostering agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents, proposed allowing homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people, and last month was sued for failing to enforce LGBTQ anti-discrimination rules.
Trump has also voiced his opposition to the Equality Act, which would enshrine protections for LGBTQ people into federal law.
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