September 27, 2018 (C-Fam) – U.S. President Donald Trump's message to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday started where he left off last year, insisting on sovereignty as the bedrock of U.S. foreign policy and the only legitimate foundation for international cooperation.
“That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination,” he said, openly rebutting statements and pleas of world leaders for America to give up sovereign prerogatives to UN entities.
And the President once again made assurances that he was not interested in using U.S. foreign policy as a tool for social engineering in other countries, as the Obama administration did to promote international acceptance of homosexuality and abortion rights.
“I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return,” he promised world leaders.
The promise is no doubt welcome to many UN member states who were pressured by the Obama administration to accept homosexuality internationally through UN resolutions.
But just hours after Trump promised to honor countries' traditions and cultures, the U.S. backed an event promoting international LGBT rights in the conference room immediately under the General Assembly Hall.
Both the Secretary General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet delivered remarks at the event embracing a broad LGBT agenda, that goes beyond preventing violence against individuals who identify as LGBT.
The event was ostensibly about ending “extrajudicial killings,” something all member states condemn univocally. But Bachelet said it was necessary to end “every kind” of discrimination against individuals who identify as LGBT and applauded the Supreme Court of India for striking down the nations' sodomy laws earlier this month.
She called on states to track LGBT hate crimes and said they would be held responsible for the actions of non-state actors also. It was not clear from her statement if this might also apply to religious groups that teach their adherents that homosexual acts are immoral.
The UN Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Columbia University Professor Agnes Callamard, was also invited by the LGBT Core Group to speak. She said the failure of states to provide individuals who identify as LGBT with specifically tailored welfare services could also result in an “extrajudicial killing.”
“Arbitrary deprivations of life may be linked to states' negligence in providing basic conditions and services that guarantee life,” she said, lamenting the high rates of homelessness, prostitution, and HIV/AIDS among individuals who identify as LGBT.
The event was sponsored by the “LGBT Core Group,” which the Obama administration joined in its first term. The U.S. is still a member of the group composed of 24 states, two LGBT groups, and the UN human rights office.
The coordinator of the group, an organization called OutRight International which worked closely with the Obama administration, criticized President Trump in a press release on the same day calling the President “short sighted” and dismissing his emphasis on sovereignty as “excuses States use to advance a patriarchal, nationalistic agenda.”
Though the U.S. has kept a lower profile in the Group since Trump took office, U.S. membership still sends a mixed message. The purpose of the group is to make “sexual orientation and gender identity” categories of international law even though this is a controversial subject and no binding UN treaty can be fairly read to protect sexual autonomy outside of the context of marriage and family formation.
U.S. diplomats will negotiate these issues in a resolution on extrajudicial killings, in coming weeks. The position of U.S. diplomats on the inclusion of “sexual orientation and gender identity” in UN resolutions did not change during the last two sessions of the General Assembly. It remains to be seen if they align with President Trump's promise.
Published with permission from C-Fam.