The President said the purpose of the memo is to "reinvigorate our leadership on LGBTQI issues and to do it internationally."
President Joe Biden has signed a historic memorandum on the worldwide protection of LGBTQ+ rights. The Hill reported White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Biden would announce the memo later today from a State Department appearance.
“It reflects his deep commitment to these issues both here in the United States and everywhere around the world,” Sullivan told reporters ahead of the announcement. “The United States will speak out and act on behalf of these rights as we go.”
In the official announcement, Biden spoke of all of his State Department directives. He mentioned the memo itself briefly.
"And to further repair our moral leadership, I'm also issuing a Presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues, and do it internationally," he said to reporters. "You know, we'll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals included by combatting criminalization and protecting the LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers."
Biden had made the protection of LGBTQ+ rights a key component of his presidential campaign. He vowed to pass the Equality Act, the landmark piece of legislation that would amend existing civil rights laws to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, within the first 100 days in office while on the campaign trail last October.
“This is essential to ensuring that no future president can ever again roll back civil rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, including when it comes to housing,” Biden said of a quick passage of the bill last year. While Biden "stands by" that commitment, he reportedly tried to control expectations recently, noting that there might be a lack of votes in the Senate to pass the bill, as well as a need to focus on rolling out the vaccine nationwide. Still, he did set to work dismantling Trump’s hated discriminatory ban on transgender people serving in the military.
The Trump administration was noted for its long record of transphobic and LGBTQ+ sentiments but in 2019 it announced its initiative to end the criminalization of
homosexuality worldwide. Then-President Trump said his administration and the American people stood “in solidarity with LGBT people who live in countries that punish, jail, and execute people based on sexual orientation” in a speech to the United Nations. The campaign effort was led by then-Ambassador Richard Grenell. There was no notable movement on this.