President Joe Biden addressed world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, where he spoke about the need to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world.
“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear,” Biden said.
“As we pursue diplomacy across the board, the United States will champion the democratic values that go to the very heart of who we are as a nation and a people — freedom, equality, opportunity and a belief in the universal rights of all people,” he added.
In his speech, Biden specifically spoke about LGBTQ+ rights violations in Chechnya and Cameroon.
For years, Chechen authorities have organized — at times lethal — crackdowns against LGBTQ+ people in the Russian republic. Earlier this year the Russian LGBT Network reported that Chechen men forcibly returned a man to the republic from Moscow and interrogated him about LGBTQ+ people in the area.
Human Rights Watch reported in April that authorities in Cameroon had arrested, beaten, or threatened around 24 people for allegedly participating in same-sex conduct or gender nonconformity. The organization noted one person was made to take an HIV test and an anal examination.
“These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon,” said Neela Ghoshal, HRW's associate LGBTQ+ rights director, at the time. “The law criminalizing same-sex conduct puts LGBT people at a heightened risk of being mistreated, tortured, and assaulted without any consequences for the abusers.”
After the speech, LGBTQ+ groups posted a clip of Biden's remarks on their social media accounts.
The Biden administration has been open about prioritizing LGBTQ+ rights in its foreign policy, a shift from the previous administration.
Around 69 U.N. member states still criminalize consensual same-sex activity, according to the international LGBTQ+ rights groups ILGA. The group found that at least 34 countries still enforce these policies in 2020.