In a speech to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21, President Biden called for the need to increase equality of LGBTQ individuals around the globe. He also told the global leaders gathered at the meeting that it was their responsibility to draft and approve laws and policies in their own countries to help protect LGBTQ rights.
“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQ individuals so they can live and love openly without fear,” Biden told those in attendance. “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.”
Thank you, @POTUS, for recognizing the urgent need to protect members of the LGBTQI community abroad, especially in countries where there is a threat of danger from their government and extremist groups in your speech to the @UN. pic.twitter.com/JZsvUv5kWf
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) September 21, 2021
The Advocate’s Alex Cooper reported that Biden’s speech specifically called out the need for increased LGBTQ protections in Chechnya and Cameroon.
“For years, Chechen authorities have organized — at times lethal — crackdowns against LGBTQ+ people in the Russian republic,” Cooper said. “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.”
According to Cooper, “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.”
Some individuals were also forced to undergo mandatory HIV testing and subjected to unnecessary and extreme medical testing.
“These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon,” Neela Ghoshal, HRW’s associate LGBTQ+ rights director, told Cooper. “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.”
At the opening of the @UN General Assembly
“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear whether it’s Chechnya or Cameroon or anywhere” — US President Biden @POTUS
Watch the #UNGA live: https://t.co/bY4mUNJ4Np pic.twitter.com/1xOcHpPdSc
— OutRight (@OutRightIntl) September 21, 2021
Following Biden’s speech, many LGBTQ rights advocates praised him and his administration for their consistent prioritization and ongoing support of LGBTQ rights and equality.
Cooper reported that “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 [as of] 2020.”