President Joe Biden has launched a campaign to support LGBT people abroad, giving greater importance of their rights on the U.S. foreign policy agenda.

Biden plans to elevate the 2011 initiative launched by Barack Obama, expanding the scope of U.S. efforts on LGBT rights and adjusting based on lessons learned over the past decade.

In his first foreign policy speech, Biden announced Thursday he was ordering all U.S. government agencies active abroad to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people, requesting plans to be finalized within 180 days.

“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said in the memorandum. He also promised to pay greater attention to LGBT asylum seekers, ensuring action on urgent cases even when vulnerable people first flee to less welcoming countries.


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The United States also plans to combat discriminatory laws overseas and build international coalitions against homophobia and transphobia.

After the evolution of LGBT rights under the Obama administration, Jessica Stern, executive director of the advocacy group OutRight Action International, said, “to have President Biden issue this very holistic presidential memorandum so early in his administration is a clear indication that this is a political priority for him.”

Stern hopes for greater funding for non-governmental groups, which several European nations fund more generously. However, vocal U.S. support is not all it takes.

“One of the most effective and consistent ways of discrediting LGBTIQ people and out movement is to say that they are the result of colonial and Western imposition. They’re getting paid by foreign donors,” Stern said.

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