President Joe Biden continues building on his promise to make LGBTQ+ rights a priority in his administration. In his latest policy change, Biden signed a historic memorandum calling for the global protection of LGBTQ+ rights and promising that his administration would be committed to furthering equality abroad.
Speaking to the State Department during his first major foreign policy speech, President Biden announced that he would be signing a memo that promises to “reinvigorate our leadership on LGBTQI issues and to do it internationally.”
The memo marks a significant reversal from the policies enacted under President Trump, which often sought to strip away rights from the LGBTQ+ community. Internationally, the Trump administration refused to condemn the anti-LGBTQ+ crackdowns happening in Chechnya, in which hundreds of people have been arrested, tortured, or killed for being queer. And the head of the State Department under Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, even tried to remove queer and trans protections from the international definition of human rights.
According to President Biden, the memo — although largely symbolic — is to demonstrate that the United States “cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage.”
“When we defend equal rights of the people the world over, of women and girls, of LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion, we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America,” said President Biden.
Prior to the memo’s signing on Thursday, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to the press about it, saying that it “reflects [Biden’s] deep commitment to these issues both here in the United States and everywhere around the world.”
“The United States will speak out and act on behalf of these rights as we go,” said Sullivan.
The memo marks the latest step in Biden’s plan to promote LGBTQ+ rights in the country; it follows in the footsteps of the President repealing the transgender military ban and implementing Bostock v. Clayton County‘s anti-discrimination ruling.