Trump’s Celebration of L.G.B.T. Rights Is Met With Criticism

WASHINGTON — President Trump has said that his administration would lead an effort to decriminalize homosexuality around the world, eliciting condemnation from activists who pointed to the administration’s moves to dismantle protections for gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The administration also stood “in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation,” Mr. Trump said on Friday on Twitter, nodding to Pride Month for the first time since he took office. In remarks that were circulated a day later as an official statement from the White House, he added, “My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invites all nations to join us in this effort!”

The president was referring to an initiative championed by Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, that was introduced in February. His tweets seemed to signal that he had come a long way in supporting the plan. Asked about the initiative at the time, Mr. Trump told reporters he did not know about it. But this time, critics immediately seized on the president’s comments, saying the administration had undermined civil rights at home.

“You can’t celebrate Pride and constantly undermine our rights — including attacking #TransHealth, discharging #TransTroops, refusing to protect LGBTQ youth, and cozying up to dictators who brutalize & marginalize LGBTQ people,” Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said on Twitter. “This is gross hypocrisy, with an emphasis on gross.”

During his run for the presidency, Mr. Trump stood out in a crowded conservative field for his comparative acceptance of gay marriage as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Those views had long predated the campaign: “If two people dig each other, they dig each other,” Mr. Trump wrote on his blog in 2005, celebrating the partnership of Elton John and David Furnish.

But Mr. Trump’s election victory was delivered, in part, by the religious right, a group that defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman — Mike Pence, the vice president and an evangelical Christian, has similarly defined marriage this way. Since Mr. Trump’s election, the administration has delivered a series of policy decisions that L.G.B.T. advocates consider dangerous to their civil rights.

In 2017, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military. In April, a policy went into effect that requires troops and recruits to use uniforms, pronouns and sleeping and bathroom facilities for their biological sex, even if they identify as transgender. And in May, the administration formally moved to roll back Obama-era regulations that were meant to protect transgender medical patients and health insurance consumers. And last year, the Department of Health and Human Services circulated a memo across departments that sought to narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.

“You want to define transgender people out of existence,” a Twitter account for the Democratic National Committee wrote to Mr. Trump. “Your record speaks for itself, and a single tweet won’t change that.”

Mr. Trump has also appointed two Supreme Court justices whom advocates see as hostile to gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. A test to the newly reordered court was introduced this spring, when the Supreme Court said it would examine three cases to determine if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guaranteed workplace protections to gay and transgender people; the Trump administration has argued that it does not.

Still, the president’s supporters praised him for being the first Republican president to go so far in acknowledging the L.G.B.T. community, and hailed Mr. Trump’s acknowledgment of Pride Month, which occurs each June in memory of the Stonewall riots.

“Been waiting all my life for a Republican to show this kind of leadership,” tweeted Gregory T. Angelo, a communications specialist who recently stepped down as president of the Log Cabin Republicans, which represents L.G.B.T. conservatives. “THANK YOU PRESIDENT TRUMP!”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told reporters on Friday that Mr. Trump’s efforts should be applauded, pointing out that President Barack Obama, whose administration oversaw a series of regulations meant to protect L.G.B.T. rights, did not initially take office as a public defender of same-sex marriage.

“He’s the first president to start as president for approving of gay marriage,” Ms. Conway said of her boss.

Source link