US President Joe Biden issued a memorandum Thursday directing US federal agencies that are engaged abroad to “promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”
The memorandum states that it is building on a similar memorandum issued by President Obama in 2011, when Biden was serving as his vice-president. The Biden memorandum directs agencies to strengthen their efforts to fight against laws that would criminalize LGBTQI+ status or conduct, to improve the protections for LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers, and provide for a swift interagency response to incidents abroad that threaten the rights of LGBTQI+ persons.
The memorandum also directs agencies to consider the impact of financial assistance on LGBTQI+ persons when making funding determinations, and to build coalitions with other nations and international organizations to protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons. The memorandum also specifically rescinds any previous orders that are contrary to these goals, singling out “those issued from January 20, 2017, to January 20, 2021,” for special consideration. Those are the dates of Donald Trump’s presidency, during which he issued a number of orders and memoranda that rolled back LGBTQI+ rights domestically.
Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ rights group in the US, praised the memorandum “for making it clear that the United States is a nation that values LGBTQ people at home and abroad, and is willing to fight to ensure every person is able to live free and equal.”