Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement on Thursday condemning nation states that punish or sentence to death people solely based on their sexual identity.
Pompeo issued the statement on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, a day that has significance for U.S. foreign policy.
“The United States stands for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights,” Pompeo said. “Our nation was founded on the bedrock principle that we are all created equal — and that every person is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Around the world, far too many governments continue to arrest and abuse their citizens simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI),” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s statement noted that 70 countries around the world have laws that make sexual orientation or activity a crime that, in some places, leads to a death sentence.
“The United States firmly opposes criminalization, violence and serious acts of discrimination such as in housing, employment, and government services, directed against LGBTI persons,” Pompeo said. “We use public and private diplomacy to raise human rights concerns, provide emergency assistance to people at risk, and impose visa restrictions and economic sanctions against those who persecute them.”
Pompeo said the United States “stands with people around the world in affirming the dignity and equality of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.”
“Human rights are universal, and LGBTI people are entitled to the same respect, freedoms, and protections as everyone else,” Pompeo said.
During his confirmation hearings, Pompeo was challenged for expressing in the past his support for traditional marriage between one man and one woman, specifically his remarks when he was a member of Congress in 2015 and spoke at a church.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) repeatedly asked Pompeo whether he thought being gay was a “perversion” and if he believed in gay marriage.
“My respect for every individual regardless of their sexual orientation is the same,” Pompeo said.
The U.S. supports nation states around the world that protect the rights of all citizens, including those in the LGBTI community. The Trump administration also counts among its highest-ranking members LGBTI Americans, among the most prominent recently confirmed Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.
Pompeo’s statements regarding this support follow a week in which much of the world’s attention was focused on Israel, one of America’s closest allies and a defender of LGBT rights. Breitbart Jerusalem reported in 2016 that Israel celebrated its first LGBT Rights Day that year.
In an exclusive interview in March with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox rabbi who heads up the World Values Network, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that many LGBT Palestinians seek asylum in Israel after facing death in their hometowns either by their families or even the Palestinian police.
“Israel’s laws protect human rights,” Boteach said. “LGBT Palestinians suffer beatings, imprisonment and even death at the hands of their families and the police,” Boteach said.
“Many are lucky enough to escape to Israel,” he said.
Some groups in the United States have used the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia to condemn the Trump administration, despite its support for the observance.
“Today, HRC marked the observance of the 2018 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) by spotlighting global challenges to LGBTQ equality and calling out the Trump-Pence Administration for turning a blind eye to the oppression and abuse of LGBTQ people around the globe,” the Human Rights Campaign said in an article posted on its website Thursday.