January 22, 2017 at 11:20 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Trump inauguration sparks renewed concern overseas

presidential inauguration, gay news, Washington Blade

President Donald Trump (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBT and intersex advocates around the world have greeted President Trump’s inauguration with concern.

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern is among those who have expressed concern that the new administration will end U.S. efforts to promote LGBT rights abroad.

“If the U.S. reverses course and rolls back the proactive approach that President Obama has taken, LGBTIQ people around the world will suffer first,” said Stern in an email she sent to OutRight Action International supporters on Jan. 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration. “They live under despots and dictators who would be emboldened to enforce draconian laws if we don’t continue to advance equality.”

Óscar Rementería, spokesperson for Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual, a Chilean advocacy group known by the Spanish acronym Movilh, told the Blade that Trump “does not have a clear stance” towards LGBT-specific issues.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) during her confirmation hearing on her nomination to become the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. that American values “do not allow for discrimination of any kind to anyone.” Haley did not specifically mention LGBT people in her response to the New Jersey Democrat’s question on U.S. efforts to combat discrimination and persecution around the world based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson — who Trump has nominated to become the next secretary of state — raised eyebrows among LGBT rights advocates when he declined to specifically say whether “gay rights are human rights” during his confirmation hearing. It also remains unclear whether the Trump administration will eliminate the position of special U.S. envoy for LGBT and intersex rights that former Secretary of State John Kerry created in 2015.

“With Trump, there will be a big setback in terms of human rights for sexual diversity,” Erika Montecinos, coordinator of Agrupación Lésbica Rompiendo el Silencio, a lesbian advocacy group in Chile, told the Blade.

Montecinos said Trump’s statements are “clearly homophobic and racist.” She also noted U.S. embassies and foundations supported LGBT advocacy efforts throughout Latin America during the Obama administration.

A protester expresses their opposition to President Donald Trump during a protest in Mexico City on Jan. 21, 2017. It is among the hundreds of Women's Marches that took place around the world. (Photo by Paco Robleado)

A protester expresses their opposition to President Donald Trump during a protest in Mexico City on Jan. 21, 2017. It is among the hundreds of Women’s Marches that took place around the world. (Photo by Paco Robleado)

William Hernández, director of Asociación Entre Amigos LGBTI, an advocacy group in El Salvador, told the Blade that organizations throughout the region have benefitted from the Obama administration’s efforts to promote health, economic development and human rights. He also noted Asociación Entre Amigos had a close relationship with the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador and former Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte.

“Not knowing how difficult it will be to maintain strategic political relations (with the U.S.) in relation to LGBTI issues affects us,” Hernández told the Blade.

Ambar Alfaro, an LGBT and intersex activist in El Salvador who is a member of Asociación Solidaria Para Impulsar el Desarrollo Humano, shares Hernández’s concerns about the relationship that advocacy groups in the Central American country will have with the U.S. Embassy under the Trump administration.

“We hope that this will not change,” Alfaro told the Blade, noting the U.S. has a lot of influence in El Salvador.

Andrea Ayala, executive director of Espacio de Mujeres Lesbianas por la Diversidad, a Salvadoran advocacy group known by the Spanish acronym ESMULES, told the Blade the Trump administration wants to implement “very strong immigration laws.”

Trump in 2015 described Mexicans as “rapists” when he announced his campaign. He has also called for Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall along its border with the U.S. to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country.

Immigration advocates and their supporters sharply criticized Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Trump has backed away from this proposal, but he has said his administration would subject potential immigrants to “extreme vetting.” This policy would include an “ideological test” that includes questions about LGBT rights.

“Both LGBTI people who are already on American soil and have applied for asylum, for example, as well as those who have an irregular status will have a very steep hill to climb with this new administration,” Ayala told the Blade.

World leaders congratulate Trump

British Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on Friday. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other world leaders have also expressed their willingness to work with the new administration.

“Canada and the United States have built one of the closest relationships between any two countries in the world,” said Trudeau. “This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security.”

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a statement said the alliance between his country and the U.S. is “bound in universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” He added it is “the linchpin of Japan’s foreign and security policies.”

“I would like to further strengthen the unwavering tie between Japan and the United States based on the relationship of trust between us the two leaders,” said Abe.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting that he was planning to speak with Trump about “the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” Syria and the Iran nuclear deal later in the day.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat last week made a video in which he sharply criticized Obama over his administration’s decision not to block a resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank that the U.N. Security Council approved last month. Barkat also applauded Trump’s support for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Let’s make the U.S. and Israeli relationship again,” said Barkat.

Republicans and Democrats have criticized Trump over his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and expressed concern over allegations that the Kremlin sought to interfere with the election. The Chinese government sharply criticized Trump for speaking with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last month.

Protesters in Prague, Czech Republic, hold signs against Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy Willem van der Bas)

Protesters in Prague, Czech Republic, hold signs against Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy Willem van der Bas)

Trump has also criticized the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, even though reports indicate his company violated the U.S. embargo in 1998 and again in late 2012 or early 2013.

Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, on Friday posted a story to its website that noted protests took place in D.C. during Trump’s inauguration. It also reported the protests “were repressed by the police” and there was “a low turnout of (Trump) supporters at the investiture ceremony.”

Nicolás Levy in Santiago, Chile, and Ernesto Valle Linares in San Salvador, El Salvador, contributed to this article.

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

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