Biden signs foreign policy memo putting U.S. at ‘forefront’ of global LGBTQ rights

President Joe Biden has issued a historic memorandum committing the United States to promoting LGBTQ rights on the international stage. Released to the public Thursday evening, the Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World directs American agencies operating abroad “to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.” It calls for agencies to combat criminalization of LGBTQ identity or conduct, protect LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers, address human rights abuses affecting LGBTQ people and work with like-minded nations and international organizations to combat discrimination. There are approximately 70 countries around the world that currently have laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults, according to the Human Rights Watch. Barack Obama issued the first presidential memorandum directing U.S. agencies abroad to promote LGBTQ rights globally in 2011. Biden indicated his order “builds upon that historic legacy.” “Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights,” the memo reads, in part. “The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values. It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.”