Top Biden Official Says War in Ukraine is Linked to Homosexual Rights
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 7 (C-Fam) A top foreign policy official in the Biden administration said the Ukraine war was partly over the West’s pressure on homosexual and transgender issues during an interview at the Atlantic Council.
“Part of what Ukraine is fighting for and what Russia is trying to squelch is liberalization, understanding who human rights protections apply to,” said Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, in reference to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Power said Ukrainians were working fast to liberalize their country even as they are fighting the Russians.
“You see LGBTQI protections progressing through legislative measures and regulations,” she said, adding that the transformation of Ukraine’s legal culture was also changing rapidly because new judges were being vetted on the basis of these issues.
Power said her agency was a “critical partner” in this. She explained that the U.S. saw promoting this agenda as one and the same as promoting democracy.
“I don’t think we can even think about LGBTQI+ rights outside of the broader context of the anti-democratic movements that exist all over the world,” she said, explaining that anti-democratic forces are “partnering with outside repressive actors who would seek to widen divisions within democracies.”
Power said her agency had made $16 million in grants available for LGBTQ organizations but that all U.S. programming now has related components. She said this was resulting in a “surge in programming” on this topic.
“It’s not enough to have a little pot of money or even a big pot of money, all programs, on education, on health, need to be attentive and intentional about going out of our way to make sure we are not just practicing development but inclusive development,” Power said, adding that this was a “design feature” of U.S. programs.
Power touted her work as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Obama administration as essential to develop new human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She recalled her work to include the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” in a Security Council resolution.
“Thinking about how these norms become more salient in international law I think is very important,” she said.
“The fact that international instruments are including sometimes more explicitly and sometimes more implicitly LGBTQI+ rights as human rights,” she said was evidence of progress. By implicit language she was referring to phrases like “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination,” which the U.S. promotes routinely in UN negotiations.
“These international instruments—and this is a critical part of President Biden’s agenda—are really important. It gives LGBTQI+ organizations and individuals something to hang their arguments on,” she explained, saying that “These principles are getting traction.”
She praised in particular the UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, whose mandates was narrowly renewed last year by the UN Human Rights Council. She said the U.S. was working in concert with 31 countries to streamline issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in international law through this UN position.
When asked about how the U.S.’s foreign policy position compares with the ongoing controversies at the U.S. federal and state level around sexual orientation and gender identity issues, Power responded that the U.S. was advancing the Biden administration’s agenda through a “humble dialogue” rather than through “finger-wagging.”
She said that the U.S.’s LGBTQ policies had the “north star” that is “rooted not only in American values,” but in the same “international instruments and in universal values” she had previously claimed credit for helping to shape.