SecState: ‘Defending the Rights of LGBTQI People is Something the Department is Going to…Take on Immediately’

By CNSNews.com Staff | January 29, 2021 | 5:19pm EST
Antony Blinken (Screen Capture)
Antony Blinken (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at his confirmation hearing on January 19 that “standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.”

On January 26, the Senate voted 78 to 22 to confirm Blinken—with no Democrat voting against Blinken.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines LGBTQI as follows: “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one's sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender.”

Blinken made his remarks about “standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people” while being questioned by Sen. Ed Markey (D.-Mass.).

First Markey asked Blinken whether he was going to appoint a LGBTI envoy and give him the status of an ambassador.  Blinken answered both in the affirmative.

“After four years of Trump administration efforts to specifically marginalize, minimize, do damage to the rights of the LGBTI people, I think it's going to be vital to appoint a seasoned expert on those issues,” Markey said. “Are you going to move forward towards a speedy appointment towards an LGBTI Envoy, and would you consider raising it to ambassadorial level?”

“The answer to both questions is yes, absolutely,” said Blinken.

“This is a matter I think of some real urgency,” said Blinken.

“We have seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase,” he said. “We have seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we have seen ever and so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.”

Markey also asked Blinken if he would “ensure that ambassadors are able to fly the gay pride flag at our embassies once again around the world?”

Blinken said that, yes, he would.

Here is the transcript of Sen. Markey’s exchange with Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken about LGBTQI rights:

Sen. Edward Markey (D.-Mass.): “As you know, the Trump administration rolled back much of the United States previous efforts to support and promote LGBTI rights around the world, and I am thrilled that you and President-elect Biden have indicated that you are going to support and appoint a new Special Envoy for human rights and LGBTI people, a position that I have been pushing to make permanent through like international human rights defense act which was left vacant in the Trump years. After four years of Trump administration efforts to specifically marginalize, minimize, do damage to the rights of the LGBTI people, I think it's going to be vital to appoint a seasoned expert on those issues. Are you going to move forward towards a speedy appointment towards an LGBTI Envoy, and would you consider raising it to ambassadorial level?”

Antony Blinken: “The answer to both questions is yes, absolutely. This is a matter I think of some real urgency. We have seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase. We have seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we have seen ever and so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.

Markey: “Thank you, and will you repudiate the findings of the report of the commission on unalienable rights and reaffirm the United States' acceptance and adherence to the human rights laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and will you ensure that ambassadors are able to fly the gay pride flag at our embassies once again around the world?”

Blinken: “Yes to both.”

Markey: “Beautiful. Thank you.”

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