In February, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing all U.S. government departments and agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons around the world.
The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that remains central to our commitment to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all individuals. In the Biden-Harris administration, the United States will lead by the power of our example and pursue a policy to end violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. Today’s action by President Biden demonstrates the U.S. government’s firm commitment to advance this goal.
Pursuant to President Biden’s memorandum, the Department of State in coordination with relevant federal agencies will use a broad range of diplomatic and programmatic tools and resources to protect vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers; combat criminalization of individuals on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct; ensure that our diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and advance nondiscrimination; and allow swift U.S. responses to human rights violations and abuses of LGBTQI+ persons.
Working with Congress, the State Department is taking the necessary steps to provide $10 million in Fiscal Year 2021 funds for the Global Equality Fund (GEF). The GEF provides emergency assistance to human rights defenders and human rights programming support to grassroots LGBTQI+ organizations to catalyze positive change and draws its strength from the support and partnership of an international coalition of like-minded governments, businesses, and foundations.
Under President Biden’s leadership, the United States will work with like-minded governments and strengthen civil society advocacy to fully support and advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons. Our international partners can be assured that advancing human rights for all individuals, with no exception or caveat, is a U.S. foreign policy priority.