Editor’s Note: Chad Griffin is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Chad Griffin: Election will have effect on LGBTQ equality across United States and the world
He says Donald Trump has allied with anti-LGBTQ groups; shown willingness to roll back equality
Griffin: Clinton has long history of promoting LGBTQ rights; she, not Trump, would provide global leadership
Recently, ISIS pushed four men off a building in Mosul because they were suspected of being gay. Last month, the Ugandan government detained citizens attending a pride parade and ordered them beaten by other inmates. In Bangladesh, the editor of the nation’s only LGBTQ magazine was recently found hacked to death.
As we consider what the 2016 election will mean for LGBTQ equality across the United States, we also can’t forget what this election will mean for our global community.
Donald Trump has spent his campaign threatening to undo crucial protections for LGBTQ people in the United States, vowing to appoint judges to the Supreme Court to turn back the legalization of same-sex marriage and supporting state-sanctioned discrimination against transgender people.
He has courted extremists who foment hate both here and export it abroad. His running mate, Mike Pence, as a congressman in 2009, opposed language in federal legislation to monitor and combat human rights violations against LGBTQ people abroad, accusing Democrats of attempting to “promote a gay rights agenda around the globe.”
Trump has also sought support from leading exporters of anti-LGBTQ hate, including the Alliance Defending Freedom. Well known for the work it does within US borders, ADF is also spreading hate in countries around the world, from fighting equality in Russia to recruiting and training anti-equality activists in Nepal.
Together, Donald Trump and Mike Pence seem to have little interest in – and perhaps little understanding of – the dire plight faced by asylum seekers, including those who seek to flee the violence of ISIS or escape the anti-LGBTQ regime in Russia. And yet, Trump says he’s a friend to the LGBTQ community. But let’s look at what he would actually do.
Recently, Trump proposed an ideology test on new immigrants that would require those coming into the United States to show they are, among other things, tolerant of LGBTQ people. Putting aside the fact that he and Mike Pence would apparently fail their own ideology test on several fronts, the very existence of such a vetting policy would create another obstacle for refugees —including LGBTQ people fleeing countries where they can literally be put to death simply because of who they are.
By contrast, today – thanks to the work of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and others – LGBTQ people can receive priority resettlement because they face a significant threat of violence, torture, and even death in the countries they are leaving. The policy also prioritizes other vulnerable groups such as children, widows and older refugees, as well as targeted communities like religious and ethnic minorities.
While Trump was busy cozying up to Vladimir Putin back in 2011, Clinton was declaring before the international community that “gay rights are human rights.” She was creating the Global Equality Fund, which supports human rights defenders working to protect LGBTQ people in more than 80 countries.
She was also helping ensure the United Nations Human Rights Council passed its very first resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2011. In Clinton, the LGBTQ community has a leader who was not only willing to make historic commitments through our foreign policy, but has taken action.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence pose a clear threat to equality here in the United States, particularly when it comes to marriage equality, basic civil rights protections and the makeup of our Supreme Court. But let’s also consider what’s on the line for the gay teen living in Jamaica or the transgender woman living in Honduras or the men living in daily fear of being exposed, targeted and murdered by ISIS.
For them, our foreign policy can mean life or death.
In a Trump-Pence administration, does anyone think human rights for all will remain a pillar of our foreign policy? Or that our embassies abroad will provide the same beacon of hope to local LGBTQ communities? Or that whomever Trump selects as his secretary of state or UN ambassador will go before the international community to fight against discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity?
Would Donald Trump stand up against hateful legislation in countries like Russia and Uganda when he’s endorsed the ability of US states to legalize discrimination? The answers to all of those questions are: clearly not.
This election is about many crucial issues of great importance here at home. But we can’t forget that we also hold lives in our hands around the globe. Who we elect as our next president will either destroy the progress we’ve made or continue building toward a world where all LGBTQ people are safe from violence, discrimination and fear.