In a White House memorandum titled “Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World,” and issued on February 4, the Biden Administration restated the earlier policy objective of the Obama Administration to, “ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere.”

In this effort, President Biden demanded the full and active cooperation of the following departments of the Executive branch:

“the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.”

In summary, these agencies are directed to do the following:

  • Combat Criminalization of LGBTQI+ Status or Conduct Abroad.
  • Protect Vulnerable LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
  • Consider the impact of foreign aid programs funded by the Federal Government on human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, in these funding decisions.
  • Swift and Meaningful United States Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBTQI+ Persons in foreign countries.
  • Build a coalition of Like-Minded Nations and engage international organizations in the fight against LGBTQI+ discrimination.
  • Rescinding Inconsistent Policies and Reporting on Progress within 100 days to the White House.

On March 12, a more specific follow-up document titled “Memorandum For Senior Pentagon Leadership, Commanders Of The Combatant Commands, Defence Agency And DoD Feild Activity Directors” was sent out. It contained a specific set of tasks the Biden Administration expects them to carry out in furtherance of the February 4 memorandum. The senior commanders of the DoD are now expected to “combat” criminalization in foreign countries of LGBTQI+ persons and be public advocates for such rights in working with foreign countries. Furthermore, DoD is also expected to make funding decisions regarding allied countries consistent with the goal of furthering LGBTQI+ rights.

In taking office, President Biden said he wished to re-establish American credibility in foreign countries. These new DoD directives are unlikely to do anything but make the U.S. appear hypocritical, bullying, and unserious when it comes to our multilateral security agreements with other countries and allies.

First, the U.S. is in no position to preach to other countries about LGBTQI+ Rights as if we are leading the world in these efforts.  According to a comprehensive study by the WORLD Policy Analysis Center and UCLA, just five countries, Britain, Bolivia, Ecuador, Fiji, and Malta give full constitutional rights to people regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.