Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and equality—no matter whom they love, or how they identify. On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, we reaffirm our commitment to this ongoing work and stand with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people around the world.
More than 30 years ago today, thanks to the tireless advocacy of LGBTQI+ activists the World Health Organization took the long overdue step of declassifying ‘homosexuality’ as a mental health disorder. Since then, we’ve seen real progress—including a powerful movement for LGBTQI+ liberation, more protections for LGBTQI+ people, and more spaces that recognize and affirm that our diversity is our strength. But sadly, we continue to see reminders of how much work remains. More than 60 countries still criminalize homosexuality and some are considering even more draconian anti-LGBTQI+ legislation. Some governments continue to classify LGBTQI+ individuals as having a medical disorder or permit the use of so-called “conversion therapy”—a dangerous and discredited practice that blatantly violates human rights and causes significant harm, including high rates of suicide-related thoughts and behaviors among LGBTQI+ youth. And right here at home, violent attacks on LGBTQI+ individuals and community spaces have risen dramatically, and more than 600 hateful laws have been introduced this year targeting the LGBTQI+ community, particularly youth.
That is why, during my first month in office, I signed a Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World to combat criminalization, protect vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees, and build international coalitions to fight against discrimination. Last June, I signed an Executive Order directing my Administration to work to prevent the use of so-called “conversion therapy” in the United States and around the world. We have also launched a new Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally to ensure that our efforts to confront the scourge of gender-based violence addresses the unique risks and barriers for LGBTQI+ people. And, my Administration continues to engage with governments, faith leaders, families, and communities around the globe to protect and promote respect for human rights—including LGBTQI+ rights.
Here at home, we’ve also worked to advance equality and equity for LGBTQI+ Americans. On my first day in office, I signed an Executive Order to strengthen civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ citizens in housing, health care, education, the criminal justice system, and more. We have made strides in ensuring that transgender and non-binary Americans can access accurate federal IDs and vital government services—from emergency homeless shelters to Social Security benefits. The Department of Justice is responding to discriminatory state laws that violate the rights and freedoms of LGBTQI+ youth and their families. And, I am proud to have appointed a historic number of proud LGBTQI+ public servants, including the first openly gay person to serve as a Cabinet Secretary, the first two openly transgender Americans to ever be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and the first openly lesbian American to achieve the rank of Ambassador.
All of us have a responsibility to speak out and stand up against hate and violence in any form. When the rights of any group or individual are under attack, it endangers our own freedom, and the freedom of people everywhere. So today, let us join together across our country—and around the world—to stand with the LGBTQI+ community. Let us renew our work to combat homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia—and put an end to the harmful violence and discrimination that stems from it.