Obama claims transgenderism, LGBT rights a 'specific focus' of American diplomacy abroad

by Gregory Tomlin, |
The White House is illuminated in rainbow colors after the historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in Washington June 26, 2015. | REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation calling the advancement of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) agenda one of his administration's signature achievements.

The proclamation, issued May 17 to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), said the United States affirmed the "dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity."

Ironically, the pronouncement comes just days after the White House stepped deep into controversy when the administration issued "guidelines" for public schools on opening restroom and locker room facilities to students based on their perceived gender identity. Several governors, including Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, refused the guidelines as a federal overreach that carried the imprimatur of a mandate.

Abbott called the decree a "constitutional tipping point." McCrory, whose state is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for passing a "restroom law" that prohibits male access to multi-occupancy female bathrooms, said the push from the White House "changes generations of gender etiquette and privacy norms."

In the proclamation May 17, however, President Obama said the U.S. is "committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world."

The Obama administration first declared the advancement of LGBT "rights" would be a focus of its foreign policy in a memo in 2011. In the memo, the president directed the heads of all U.S. agencies to combat the criminalization of homosexual conduct and transgenderism abroad, grant asylum to "LGBT refugees," work to build respect for the LGBT community and broaden the number of countries accepting of the practices traditionally considered morally deviant.

According to the proclamation Tuesday, the U.S. still has much more to do to combat homophobia and transphobia and create a climate of acceptance for the groups.

"In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity," President Obama said in the statement.

IDAHOT was started by LGBT activists in 2004 and is billed as a "worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities." The group chose May 17 as the day of celebration because on that day in 1990 the World Health Organization ruled homosexuality should no longer be considered a "mental disorder." The group claims 130 countries recognize the day with official functions or proclamations.

One of those is America's neighbor to the north – Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement expanding the LGBT moniker to include "LGBTQ2" persons – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and "2-Spirited." Queer is defined by the LGBT community as pertaining to "gender fluid" people, and "2-Spirited" is used to refer to the belief of some native tribes in North America that some people have both a male and female spirit within them.

"Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves," Trudeau said.

He added that Canada has ensured rights specifically for LGBT people in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the country's Civil Marriage Act.

"We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children," Trudeau said.

Not all countries, however, are as welcoming to the LGBT agenda. Australia, IDAHOT organizers and the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) claim, lags behind significantly in accepting the LGBT push.

While the country has legal protections in place regarding the employment of LGBT persons, an IGLA study on "State Sponsored Homophobia" in 2016 claims the recognition of same-sex marriages there is not on par with traditional marriages and is deemed a "clearly inferior substitute."

The report's author, Aengus Carroll, told an Australian newspaper the country's legislation is "very weak" and "hardly protects" members of the Australian LGBT community.

IGLA is based in Geneva, Switzerland.