US President, Joe Biden has directed the American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalisation of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence.
Biden gave the directive in a White House statement on Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) persons around the world.
The United States President said the memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the presidential memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).
“It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.
“Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons,” Biden said in the memorandum.
Biden said the memorandum calls for “Swift and meaningful United States responses to human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ persons abroad.
“The Department of State shall lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons abroad.”
Biden noted that “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”
One of the countries with a restriction against the legalisation of LGBTQI+ persons globally is Nigeria – with a law prohibiting their acts.
The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), signed into law in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was enacted on the premise that the Nigerian culture is antithetical to homosexuality.
With the population of the country largely divided between Christians and Muslims, there was also a religious urgency to the prohibition. Persons of the LGBTQ+ community risk up to 20 years of jail term in Nigeria.
However, Amnesty International said the prohibition by the government exposes persons of the LGBTQ+ in the country to harm and called for a reversal of the law. US President Biden shared the same sentiment in the memorandum.
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said.
He said the United States is at the forefront of this struggle – speaking out and standing strong for members of the LGBTQ+ and holds the values of treating people with dignity regardless of race, colour or sexuality.