President Joe Biden issued a statement recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, celebrating the progress on LGBTQI+ that has made over decades while also promising to “always stand with the LGBTQI+ community.”
The annual celebration, begun in 2004, marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder starting in 1990. The day is intended to call attention to violations of LGBTQI+ people’s human rights and encourage support for various campaigns and initiatives across the globe that advance equality.
Praising the progress that the LGBTQI+ community has enjoyed since the WHO’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder, Biden touted the success of U.S. efforts to legalize same-sex marriage and bolster the country’s hate crime laws to include protections for LGBTQI+ victims of violence. He also praised the United Nations and other international organizations for recognizing the importance of laws ensuring equality for LGBTQI+ individuals.
“Despite this progress, both COVID-19 and rising authoritarianism around the world continue to widen economic, social, and safety gaps for LGBTQI+ people — and an epidemic of violence still rages, with a particular impact on the transgender community, specifically transgender women and girls of color,” Biden said in a statement. “Around the world, some 70 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships. And here at home, LGBTQI+ Americans still lack basic protection in 25 states, and they continue to face discrimination in housing, education, and public services.
“My administration will always stand with the LGBTQI+ community. Already, we have rolled back discriminatory polices targeting LGBTQI+ Americans, and we have made historic appointments of LGBTQI+ individuals to the highest levels of our government,” Biden said, touting an executive order he issued upon taking office in January, as well as actions taken by federal agencies to curb discrimination against LGBTQI+ people.
President Biden also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, a sweeping civil rights bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, whose progress has been stymied by the failure of Democrats to reform the filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
The White House also issued a “fact sheet” highlighting steps taken by the Biden-Harris administration to promote and protect the rights of LGBTQI+ people in the foreign policy arena, including efforts to combat the criminalization of homosexuality or transgenderism abroad by supporting organizations and programs that advance or protect LGBTQI+ human rights.
Under the Biden-Harris administration, the State Department has pushed to increase protections for LGBTQI+ refugees overseas and is supporting organizations that help to resettle refugees in countries with less hostile laws. The State Department has denounced anti-LGBTQI+ human rights abuses, and has emphasizes coalition-building to ensure that LGBTQI+ rights are not neglected.
The administration has also rescinded policies that were viewed as hostile to LGBTQI+ people, with the Department of Defense issuing guidance to stop forcible discharges of transgender military members, and USAID revising policies that had either excised or downplayed the importance of LGBTQI+ issues.
The president concluded: “Everyone is entitled to dignity and equality, no matter who they are, whom they love, or how they identify — and we will continue to engage with allies and partners to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ people here at home and in all corners of the world.”
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