Karine Jean-Pierre
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LGBTQ+ Equality 'Not Within Reach' in U.S., Says U.N. Official

Victor Madrigal-Borloz

There has been much progress for LGBTQ+ Americans in recent years, but equality remains elusive, says the United Nations’ independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz made the remarks at a press conference Tuesday after spending 10 days traveling around the United States. The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also put out a press release containing his comments.

“Despite five decades of progress, equality is not within reach, and often not even within sight, for all persons impacted by violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States,’’ Madrigal-Borloz said.

The comments constituted his preliminary report on the state of LGBTQ+ Americans. He will make a formal one to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year.

His U.S. trip included stops in Washington, D.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; Miami; and San Diego. He met with more than 70 officials at all levels of government, over 100 representatives of nonprofit organizations, and numerous LGBTQ+ citizens.

He praised President Joe Biden and his administration for issuing “very powerful” executive orders aimed at promoting LGBTQ+ equality, but he noted many anti-LGBTQ+ moves by state and local politicians. He said he’d heard of about 280 pieces of such legislation, “which also create a terribly polarizing narrative that exacerbates already high and worrisome risks of violence and discrimination.”

“I am deeply alarmed by a widespread, profoundly negative riptide created by deliberate actions to roll back the human rights of LGBT people at state level,” he said. These include many attacks on transgender youth, such as efforts to keep them from accessing gender-affirming health care or bar them from competing on the sports teams designated for their gender identity.

“The evidence shows that, without exception, these actions rely on prejudiced and stigmatizing views of LGBT persons, in particular transgender children and youth, and seek to leverage their lives as props for political profit,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

He also pointed out the high rate of violence against LGBTQ+ people, with, for instance, 20.3 percent of reported hate crimes based on anti-LGBTQ+ bias. He further cited a high risk of homelessness among queer Americans, widespread discrimination, and other challenges the LGBTQ+ population faces, including the effect of bad immigration policy, left over from the previous administration, on refugees and asylum seekers.

Overall, “the Biden-Harris administration has adopted powerful and meaningful actions that are in conformity with international human rights law, reveal a thoughtful strategy created through participative approaches, and provide significant capacity for their implementation,” he concluded. “This is exactly the combination of values, knowledge, and muscle that can drive social change.

“In light of a concerted attack to undermine these actions, I exhort the administration to redouble its efforts to support the human rights of all LGBT persons living under its jurisdiction and helping them to safe waters.”

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