October 25, 2016 at 12:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Trump is ‘nightmare waiting to happen’

presidential debates, gay news, Washington Blade

An LGBT rights advocate from Africa on Oct. 24 2016, described Donald Trump as a “nightmare waiting to happen” during a Freedom House panel in Northwest D.C. (Image courtesy C-Span)

LGBT activists from overseas who took part in a panel at Freedom House in Northwest D.C. on Monday said they remain deeply concerned about a Donald Trump presidency.

“Donald Trump is a nightmare waiting to happen,” said Monica Tabengwa, executive director of Pan Africa ILGA, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBT and intersex people across Africa.

Tabengwa said in response to the Washington Blade’s question about the global impact of the U.S. presidential election that wars and other conflicts have displaced millions around the world. She also noted people are “getting on a boat” in hopes of reaching Europe.

“What does it mean to have the United States . . . having such a possibility that the president will be someone who will shut the door down and won’t allow these people to come,” said Tabengwa. “It’s a worrying thing.”

Rhetoric reduces ‘space’ for LGBT Muslims

The Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT advocacy groups sharply criticized Trump last December over his proposed ban on Muslims from entering the U.S.

The Republican billionaire announced his proposal in the wake of terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris for which the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility. Trump reiterated his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. in the days after the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The gunman, who was born in New York to parents from Afghanistan, pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Officials maintain there is no indication the Sunni extremist group ordered him to carry out the massacre at the gay nightclub that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured.

Trump in August said his administration would subject potential immigrants to the U.S. to “extreme vetting” and require them to pass an “ideological test” with questions about LGBT rights. He would also temporarily ban immigrants “from some of the most dangerous and most volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”

U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sean Patrick Maloney are among the Democrats who voted for a bill in the wake of last November’s Paris terrorist attacks that sought to suspend the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S. The Trump campaign continues to assert the Clinton Foundation has accepted millions of dollars from countries that execute men accused of sodomy by throwing them off of buildings, even though ISIS is the only governing entity to have done so.

Urooj Arshad of the Washington-based Advocates for Youth said Trump’s rhetoric has created “increased polarization against” Muslims and justification for Islamic fundamentalism in her native Pakistan and other countries. Arshad also said the proposed ban on Muslim immigrants to the U.S. after the Pulse nightclub massacre and the debate over burkini swimsuit bans in France are indicative of the rise in what she described as “right-wing populist” movements in the U.S. and Europe.

“Anyone who is an LGBTI person who’s also Muslim, it reduces the space for them to exist anywhere in the world,” said Arshad.

“That’s what me and my friends talk about,” she added. “Where are we supposed to go and how come we can’t live in Pakistan full time? We can’t here based on what’s going on with Trump.”

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, also noted Trump has cited anti-LGBT violence from ISIS and other extremist groups in the Middle East on the campaign trail. Bromley said the Republican billionaire has “used that in a way as rhetoric to justify very anti-refugee, anti-Muslim” policies.

“That’s a disturbing sort of argument that we see perculating out there,” said Bromley.

‘More people are used to’ Clinton

Hillary Clinton supporters are quick to point out she delivered her “gay rights are human rights” speech in Geneva in 2011.

Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, gave the landmark address on the same day the Obama administration directed government agencies that implement U.S. foreign policy to promote LGBT rights abroad. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, opposed these efforts when he was a member of the House of Representatives.

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo in August criticized Clinton after emails revealed the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia — in which those convicted of consensual same-sex sexual relations face the death penalty — and other countries with anti-LGBT rights records. Clinton’s supporters were quick to note the Clinton Foundation has fought HIV/AIDS and funded other efforts around the world.

“More people are used to her,” said Tabengwa, referring to Clinton. “She’s been in the system for a long time. She’s been with the Obama administration.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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