US President Donald Trump speaks while flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Trump White House has flatly rejected criticism over its ties to anti-LGBT hate groups.
A report from anti-extremism watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center revealed a “sharp expansion” in the number of anti-LGBT hate groups operating across the US – an increase from 49 groups to 70 in just one year.
The report also warned about the growing acceptance of extreme views within the Trump administration, where several people linked to anti-LGBT lobbying groups hold high-profile roles.
Extremism watchdog: Trump administration has deep ties to anti-LGBT hate groups
The report states: “Anti-LGBTQ groups have become intertwined with the Trump administration, and—after years of civil rights progress and growing acceptance among the broader American public—anti-LGBTQ sentiment within the Republican Party is rising.
“Groups that vilify the LGBTQ community, in fact, represented the fastest-growing sector among hate groups in 2019—expanding from 49 in 2018 to 70 in 2019, a nearly 43% increase.
“Much of this growth has taken place among groups at the grassroots level, a surge possibly fuelled by continued anti-LGBTQ sentiment and policy emanating from government officials.”
SPLC added: “Though Trump promised during his campaign to be a ‘real friend’ to the LGBTQ community, he has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their agenda of dismantling federal protections and resources for LGBTQ people, while his Department of Justice has filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in support of anti-LGBTQ lawsuits, some of which were brought by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.”
The report adds: “Staffers from organisations that vilify the LGBTQ community have been hired by the Trump administration and have influenced and written its policies.
“Numerous protections for LGBTQ people have been removed through executive action, as when the Interior Department stripped ‘sexual orientation’ from its anti-discrimination guidelines this year.
“In addition, the administration has consistently claimed that laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex do not apply to LGBTQ people and has worked to install religious exemptions to civil rights laws.”
White House spokesperson dismisses extremism report as ‘far-left smear’
The White House responded by putting out deputy press secretaru Judd Deere, a gay man who opposes a bill to provide discrimination protections for gay people, to decry the report as a “far-left smear” and insist that the real problem is the “radical left.”
He told NBC: “While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies and ambassadorships
“He launched a global campaign to decriminalise homosexuality… and the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years.”
Contrary to his claims, in fact, Trump has appointed just one openly gay official to a senior role – Richard Grenell, who has ties to the far-right.
Although much-touted by gay Trump supporters, there is little evidence that any US-led “global campaign to decriminalise homosexuality” exists beyond an initial press release one year ago – and if there is, Donald Trump himself has previously admitted he doesn’t have a clue about it.
Deere did not respond to any of the details about the influence of anti-LGBT groups within the Trump administration, and failed to address the multiple court briefs filed by the Department of Justice in support of employers’ right to fire LGBT+ people, which are a matter of public record.
Indeed, much of the spokesperson’s statement appears to have been copy-pasted from the last time he was asked about LGBT+ rights four months ago.