Donald Trump Wants to Test Muslim Immigrants on Gay Equality

Donald Trump

Donald Trump wants to bar any Muslim who supports the death penalty for gays from entering the United States. That’s among a long list of reasons he outlined today that a person could be denied entry — or even ordered to leave the country after already immigrating here.

"I call it extreme vetting," he told a raucous crowd during a foreign policy speech delivered in Ohio. Trump began the speech by rattling off a list of terror attacks and their casualties worldwide. He included the Pulse shooting in Orlando, saying “and I’ll tell you what, we can never ever allow this to happen again.” 

His solution is, partly, to focus on immigration. 

“A new immigration policy is needed immediately,” he said, saying “the common thread” among all terrorist attacks is “they have involved immigrants or the children of immigrants. Clearly, new screening procedures are needed.”

Trump claimed that immigrants from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East are bringing support for Islamic law, including “honor killings” for women accused of shaming their families, and the death penalty for gays.

There’s no question that Islamic law is used in countries to prosecute men and boys accused of gay sex. Iran executed a gay teen just last month, according to Amnesty International. And there are 11 other countries where a person can be put to death by their country for gay sex, often citing Sharia law.

Trump said we must “screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration to our country.”

He displayed a narrow definition of bigotry and hatred, seeming to apply it only to Muslims. For example, he called for an international conference focused on fighting “radical Islam” and suggested Russia could be an ally. Meanwhile, Russia prosecutes its own citizens under its “gay propaganda” law. It has banned adoption by LGBT people, even barring any citizen from a country with marriage equality from adopting Russian orphans. Pride parades in Moscow are in the early years of a 100-year ban.

But Trump’s ideology test wouldn’t be limited to those entering the country. He said dismantling support networks and finding supporters of radical Islam “will be the understood mission of every federal investigator or prosecutor in the country.”  That mission will come with a new “commission on radical Islam” within the United States. He said it will hopefully include “moderate” Muslims who can explain Islam and find radicals. Trump repeatedly compared his new effort to what was done in the United Staes to root out communists. 

“Those who are guests in our country who are preaching hate will be asked to leave immediately, and if they don’t do it, we will return them home,” he promised.

Some extreme right-wing Christians within the United States have actually supported the death penalty for LGBT people. After the Orlando shooting, these pastors claimed the Bible calls for death for gays. It’s not clear if an immigrant who cited Christianity to support death for gays would be returned home, since Trump was focused squarely on Islam in his speech.

Trump called the distorted view of Islam that drives terrorism a “hateful ideology” that oppresses “women, gays, children and non-believers.”  At times, he threatened to be “vicious” when combatting it. He called radical Islam, “This ideology of death which must be extinguished.” 

“My administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays, and people of different beliefs,” he promised. 

Trump implied others would support his Muslim ban and this new ideology test, except that “political correctness has replaced common sense in our society.” Indeed, the ban is perhaps the single greatest divider between him and his own party. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, for example, called on Trump to eliminate the religious test for immigration. 

Proposing this new immigration policy builds on statements Trump has made before. 

After the Orlando mass shooting that left 49 dead at an LGBT nightclub, Trump used a major speech the next day to claim Hillary Clinton isn’t a real LGBT supporter. He made the case that his proposed ban on Muslims entering the country is what’s really needed to stop massacres like Orlando.

Trump pointed out that the killer, Omar Mateen — who was born in the Unites States — has parents who immigrated here from Afghanistan. 

“The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place, was because we allowed his family to come here,” said Trump at the time. 

The FBI has said it can find no direct link between Mateen and ISIS, even though Mateen pledged allegiance to the terrorists’ leadership during 911 phone calls during the shooting spree. Trump was very clear, however, about his belief that the crime was both motivated by terrorism and hatred for LGBT people, which he blamed on radical Islam.

“A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub, not only because he wanted to kill Americans,” he said, “but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens, because of their sexual orientation.”

LGBT activists did not welcome an ideological test for entering and remaining the United States, saying it violates American values. Russell Roybal, deputy executive director for National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, told The Advocate it is a form of “thought-policing.” 

“The notion of a political test raises troubling questions about who is deciding which questions to ask and who is interpreting applicants' responses,” said Royal. “Trump, given his track record of hateful remarks against Muslims, women, persons with disabilities, and others, is not a trustworthy arbiter of what questions we should ask immigrants seeking entry to the U.S.”

Roybal suggested Trump didn’t understand the consequences of what he was proposing.
 
“The LGBTQ community is quite familiar with the vehemently anti-LGBTQ views of his running mate, Mike Pence, and his party’s platform — that among other things is in favor of denying us human dignity, preventing us from marrying the person that we love, and persecuting us with discrimination,” he said. “In fact, if Trump is claiming that he would bar people from the U.S. if they don’t support LGBTQ equality and support the persecution of LGBTQ people, he may have to bar quite a few of his party colleagues."

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement making the same claim before Trump even took the podium. 

“What’s craziest about this ignorant, incomprehensible plan is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence would fail their own test,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Just last week, Donald Trump courted votes in Orlando from some of the nation’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ activists, including people who have worked to export anti-LGBTQ hate abroad. Trump and Pence have vowed to to roll back nationwide marriage equality, supported vile laws like North Carolina’s HB2 and pledged to appoint anti-LGBTQ Supreme Court justices. Pence is best known by most Americans for the hateful denial-of-service law he peddled in Indiana last year, and even sought to divert funding from HIV programs to promote the abusive practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”

Even the Log Cabin Republicans, a group for gay members of the GOP, had a tepid reaction to the Trump plan.

“Overly broad ideological litmus tests are difficult to implement,” said Log Cabin president Gregory T. Angelo, “but something must be done to address the threat of radical Islamic terror to the LGBT community, both abroad and at home, and Donald Trump clearly understands that.” 

While Trump is proposing an ideology test and a religious test, Angelo told The Advocate that immigration policy should really be about country of origin.

“The aspect of Trump's suggested policy focusing on the country of origin of potential immigrants and any ties to terrorist organizations they may have seems more enforceable,” said Angelo. “Incidentally, I hope the 'tolerance' of the LGBT community Mr. Trump expects from immigrants abroad is matched by a similar expectation of his fellow Republicans already here in the United States.”

 

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