In a recent speech, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed the United States’ unwavering commitment to promoting and defending the rights of the LGBTQI+ community both domestically and abroad. Speaking at a pride event, Secretary Blinken outlined the progress made in the past year and highlighted the urgent need for continued action to protect and advance LGBTQI+ rights worldwide. This article provides an overview of Secretary Blinken’s remarks and the key initiatives undertaken by the U.S. State Department to support LGBTQI+ individuals.
Embracing LGBTQI+ Equality: A Priority for President Biden
Secretary Blinken began by acknowledging the importance of embracing and elevating the LGBTQI+ community, emphasizing President Biden’s commitment to LGBTQI+ equality. He mentioned the historic executive order signed by President Biden last year to advance LGBTQI+ rights, positioning the administration’s actions as a reaffirmation of America’s dedication to treating every individual with dignity.
LGBTQI+ Rights as Universal Values
Secretary Blinken stressed that the United States sees the defense of LGBTQI+ rights as a universal value rather than a “Western” imposition. He affirmed that LGBTQI+ individuals exist in every culture, every country, and every religious tradition. By respecting their rights and recognizing their full humanity, the international community upholds the fundamental principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone is born free and equal.
The Link Between Democracy and LGBTQI+ Rights
Highlighting the interconnection between democracy and LGBTQI+ rights, Secretary Blinken argued that inclusive democracies are stronger and more stable. When every citizen is treated equally, societies thrive, and economies flourish. Advancing the rights of LGBTQI+ people, therefore, becomes a vital national interest. The State Department has been actively working to promote LGBTQI+ rights through various initiatives around the world.
Making Progress: Global Efforts
Secretary Blinken expressed pride in the progress made over the past year, citing several examples of countries that have taken steps towards greater LGBTQI+ equality. Countries such as Singapore, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Switzerland, Slovenia, Iceland, Spain, Cyprus, and Kenya have implemented measures ranging from decriminalization and legalizing same-sex marriage to banning conversion therapy and expanding protections for intersex children. Furthermore, Latvia recently elected its first openly gay president, demonstrating the increasing acceptance and representation of LGBTQI+ individuals in leadership positions.
The Urgency of the Moment
While acknowledging the progress achieved, Secretary Blinken recognized the urgency of the present moment. LGBTQI+ individuals continue to be targeted simply for who they are, facing harassment, discrimination, and violence. In many countries, same-sex relationships are criminalized, and punishments can include death. Secretary Blinken emphasized the need for immediate action to address these injustices.
Confronting the Urgent Moment
Secretary Blinken expressed confidence in the collective ability of the State Department and the LGBTQI+ community to confront the challenges at hand. He acknowledged that every individual within the department has a role to play in the advancement of LGBTQI+ rights. This includes ensuring the safety of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers, combatting discrimination in the procurement process, and advocating for the rights of same-sex parents. The State Department is dedicated to this ongoing endeavor, both bilaterally and multilaterally, across issues and regions.
Gaining Inspiration from Frontline Advocates
Secretary Blinken encouraged attendees to draw inspiration from frontline LGBTQI+ advocates who have long been at the forefront of the struggle. He mentioned Frank Mugisha, an activist from Uganda who faces severe legal consequences for his advocacy. Despite the risks involved, Mugisha remains steadfast. Secretary Blinken highlighted Mugisha’s determination as an example to follow, reaffirming the State Department’s unwavering support for activists and the human rights of all people.
Secretary Blinken’s speech at the pride event underscored the United States’ commitment to championing LGBTQI+ rights. He emphasized that the pursuit of equality is not limited to any specific region or culture but is instead a universal value. The State Department continues to work diligently to advance LGBTQI+ equality through various initiatives, both domestic and international. With the recognition of the urgency of the moment, Secretary Blinken affirmed the collective effort required to confront this critical time and pledged unwavering support to LGBTQI+ advocates across the globe.