Biden Disses Saudi Arabia; Would Set Up 'Special Office' to Promote 'LGBTQ Rights Around the World'

Susan Jones | October 11, 2019 | 4:56am EDT
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Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden joins moderator Anderson Cooper for a CNN town hall devoted to LGBTQ issues hosted by CNN and the Human rights Campaign Foundation in Los Angeles on October 10, 2019. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Former Vice President Joe Biden told a CNN town hall "dedicated to equality" that enforcement and education would be part of his plan to eliminate alleged discrimination against LGBTQ people in the United States.

Biden called for passage of the Democrats' Equality Act; enforcement of civil rights laws; the monitoring of hate groups; and teaching children from an early age to accept same-sex couples and transgenders.

And he said his efforts would not be confined to the United States. Asked specifically about Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal, Biden described it as a country with "very little social redeeming value."

"In my State Department, not a joke, we will have a special office that's devoted directly to promoting LGBTQ rights around the world -- around the world," Biden said.

Biden was responding to a question from an audience member who said he had recently visited a country where homosexuality is illegal and could result in the death penalty. "Should we be actively promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people across the globe?" he asked Biden. "And should we continue to provide aid and trade with countries that persecute gay people?"

"Yes and no," Biden responded.

And let me explain what I mean by that. If you notice, in some of your varying form, I've been the most outspoken critic, starting with Chechnya and every single country who has passed laws that relate to whether or not you, in fact -- it's a crime, you can be stoned to death, you can be punished, et cetera, et cetera, if you are gay, number one.

Number two, in my State Department, not a joke, we will have a special office that's devoted directly to promoting LGBTQ rights around the world. Around the world.

(The audience applauded.)

Now, two other things. Interesting phenomenon. I know I heard a question about -- asked about the Catholic schools and Catholicism. Guess the first nation in the world to change their constitution to allow gay marriage? Ireland. Ireland, OK? Number one.

Number two, look what's happened as well in India. I was in India promoting a proposal when I was vice president that I had to have universal women's -- the Violence Against Women Act made a condition upon which aid goes to other countries, deny aid if they don't provide it. And at the time -- I'm not saying I'm the reason why India changed, but my vocal opposition and our vocal opposition to the way they in fact dealt with LGBTQ populations was, in fact, part of the reason I think they changed.

Lastly, I would, in fact, curtail aid, curtail foreign assistance to countries who, in fact, engage in -- engage in this kind of behavior, just like I would if I were dealing with China and what they're doing to the Uighurs, a million Uighurs out -- you know, Muslims. So what's the difference? It is pure, unadulterated prejudice.

Anderson Cooper, the gay moderator, asked Biden about Saudi Arabia:

"Saudi Arabia, same thing," Biden said. "By the way, they have very little social redeeming value. No, I've been blunt about it. I've been very, very blunt about it. Very blunt about it. I know they are supposedly our ally and all the rest.

"And I'm -- look, there are certain things that we cannot tolerate. We cannot be part of propping up governments who abuse in any fundamental -- culture is never a rationale for pain. Never a rationale for prejudice. It really isn't."


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