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Washington, May 28, 2020—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today demanded answers from the Trump Administration on its approach to LGBTI rights in the Americas. In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) Carlos Trujillo, the lawmakers pressed for an explanation for why an Administration official pushed back on key provisions of an OAS LGBTI Core Group statement of support for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).

“The United States must stand with LGBTI communities throughout the Americas as they continue to push back on harassment and violence. Fighting discrimination and guaranteeing equal protection are fundamental, and it is difficult to understand why the Trump Administration would object to these concepts. As LGBTI communities commemorate IDAHOT and fight for justice, they should have the complete backing of the U.S. government,” the lawmakers wrote.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Ambassador Trujillo:

We write to express our deep concern regarding comments made by a representative of your office on behalf of the Trump Administration during an Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council discussion on the LGBTI Core Group Statement commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). We seek a full, written explanation from the Department of State on what these comments mean, why they were made and why the U.S. position at the May 13, 2020 OAS Permanent Council meeting departed from past practice. Please provide us with this explanation by no later than June 9, 2020. 

While the U.S. expressed support for the Core Group Statement on IDAHOT, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative to the OAS Alexis Ludwig stated that “the United States disagrees with the Inter-American Commission’s understanding of the concept of ‘discrimination’ and with its understanding of how the concept of ‘equal protection of the laws’ applies in this context.”

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The United States must stand with LGBTI communities throughout the Americas as they continue to push back on harassment and violence. Fighting discrimination and guaranteeing equal protection are fundamental, and it is difficult to understand why the Trump Administration would object to these concepts. As LGBTI communities commemorate IDAHOT and fight for justice, they should have the complete backing of the U.S. government. The United States should join with the other OAS LGBTI core group countries – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay – in fully commemorating IDAHOT rather than using this year’s statement as an opportunity to object to longstanding definitions of “discrimination” and “equal protection of the laws.”

We look forward to receiving a prompt explanation from you regarding the Trump Administration’s position on LGBTI rights in the Americas and the comments made at the OAS Permanent Council on May 13th.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL

Chairman

House Committee on Foreign Affairs

ROBERT MENENDEZ

Ranking Member Senate Committee on Foreign Relations