WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews)– The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a bill that would allow the Biden administration to sanction foreign individuals who oppose LGBT ideology.
The so-called Global Respect Act (GRA) cleared the House in a 227-206 vote Wednesday, with six Republicans joining all Democrats in support.
The GRA would empower the White House to impose visa bans on foreigners deemed responsible for or “complicit” in violations of “internationally recognized human rights” against people who identify as “LGBTQI.” The broadly-worded bill, which applies to private citizens, defines violations as “cruel and degrading treatment” and “flagrant denial” of the right to “liberty,” among other things.
The findings of the bill specifically take aim at laws in dozens of countries that prohibit sodomy and other homosexual activity, as well as “policies or laws that would further target LGBTQI individuals.” More than 70 nations, including much of Africa and the Middle East, currently ban homosexual acts.
Individuals sanctioned under the GRA and their immediate family would be unable to enter the United States and would be ineligible for U.S. visas. The bill would also require the U.S. State Department to designate a senior officer to track restrictions of “fundamental freedoms” “based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics.” And the measure urges the White House to “impose additional targeted sanctions” through existing means.
A Republican congressman, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, co-sponsored the bill with more than 70 Democrats. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine sponsored a Senate version.
Along with Fitzpatrick, the six House Republicans who voted for the GRA include Reps. John Katko and Tom Reed of New York, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Rep. Maria Salazar of Florida, and Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan.
The Biden White House released a statement endorsing the bill last week. The statement also celebrated the administration’s “historic actions” to advance “LGBTQI+ equality,” such as flying the “Pride” flag at U.S. embassies, and again called on the Senate to pass the radical Equality Act.
The Catholic Church, of which Joe Biden professes to be a member, has always condemned homosexuality as intrinsically evil and disordered and similarly rejects transgenderism. The Vatican has denounced LGBT “gender identities” as based on “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants.”
Parents, pastors in the crosshairs
Pro-family and religious freedom advocates have strongly criticized the Global Respect Act, warning that the bill would allow bureaucrats to target foreign Christians or other individuals who oppose the LGBT agenda abroad.
“The far Left frequently asserts that even the failure to affirm someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity is a denial of human rights,” wrote Arielle Del Turco of Family Research Council. “If that’s how the State Department would interpret the Global Respect Act, then foreign individuals such as pastors, teachers, judges, journalists, or private citizens voicing opinions rooted in their faith are at risk of being victimized by this bill.”
In Finland, a member of parliament and devout Lutheran, Päivi Räsänen, is facing jail time after tweeting a Bible verse that condemns homosexuality. “Given the United States’ longstanding commitment to promoting religious freedom abroad, it’s a no-brainer that U.S. diplomats such as the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom should be speaking out on her behalf,” Del Turco said. “But if the Global Respect Act were passed, would she be sanctioned instead?”
Del Turco noted that individuals sanctioned due to the GRA could include officials in U.S.-allied nations, such as Poland, Hungary, and several African countries, “many of which are not human rights abusers but do hold to traditional beliefs on marriage and sexuality. This is sure to strain U.S. relations with allies and harm American foreign policy,” she said.
Joe Biden has previously smeared the freely-elected governments of Hungary and Poland – both NATO allies – as “totalitarian regimes.”
Don't be fooled by the name. The "Global Respect Act," a bill currently being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives, has nothing to do with respecting authentic human rights. https://t.co/fvW7Vkz8cc
— Family Research Council (@FRCdc) February 9, 2022
The two conservative countries are among around 30 with constitutions that explicitly exclude same-sex “marriage.” But the GRA could enable the White House to retaliate against those kinds of pro-family policies, in line with far-left United Nations expert opinions, according to the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam).
“UN experts have repeatedly accused parents, religious leaders, and governments of torture and incitement for their opposition to the homosexual/trans agenda. They have done so in official communications with governments from around the world, including the Vatican,” C-Fam observed. With the GRA, Democrats and the Biden administration “may finally give teeth to those UN expert opinions,” C-Fam said.
During floor debate on the bill Wednesday, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York warned that vague terms in the bill, like “cruel and degrading treatment,” could allow for prosecutions of free speech, religious exercise, and parental decision-making, C-Fam reported.
“Is a parent who rejects her minor child’s wish for a sex change operation complicit in cruelty?” Tenney asked. “Is the Pope engaging in degrading treatment when he expresses opposition to same-sex marriage?”
“There are no safeguards in the bill that address these situations,” said the congresswoman, who blasted Democrats for rejecting an amendment by GOP Rep. Scott Perry that would have protected religious freedom, free speech, and parents’ rights.