Human rights, including the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons, are central to the Biden-Harris Administration’s foreign policy. As President Biden made clear in his February 2021 Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World, “[a]ll human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love.” Further, on June 15, 2022, the President issued E.O. 14075 “Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals” which, among other things, instructs Executive Branch departments and agencies to “address so-called conversion therapy around the world…the Secretary of State, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall develop an action plan to promote an end to its use around the world.” Experts from those four agencies worked together to develop a comprehensive and cross-cutting plan to respond to these directives and have begun implementing the action plan.
First, we fully acknowledge the significant harm caused to LGBTQI+ individuals and their families by falsely pathologizing sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. We also fully acknowledge the significant harm of the use of so-called “conversion therapy” practices (or “CTPs”) that attempt to change, alter, or suppress LGBTQI+ identities. Just as a heterosexual person could not be “made” gay, no LGBTQI+ person can be forced to be something they are not. Therefore, we cannot condone harming people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC). We further note that CTPs have been disavowed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the U.N. Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, among many others.
In response, we will elevate understanding among staff at our missions around the world and with partner countries regarding CTPs and work to prevent the support for or use of CTP globally. We will engage with partner governments to encourage them to stop sponsoring, funding, and/or otherwise supporting CTP and, with like-minded governments, encourage support for programs that educate on the harms of CTP and work to stop their use. In consultation with LGBTQI+ community groups, we will share information with medical professionals and public officials, including police, judges, and government staff, on SOGIESC issues and the harm of CTP. We will work with partner governments, including ministries of health and ministries of justice, in tandem with other countries, to discuss the dangers of CTP. In addition, we will engage with civil society networks, including faith groups, to encourage dialogue.
We will use our voice at multilateral institutions, including international financial institutions, UN agencies, and other multilateral fora to which the United States is a member, to advance the prevention of direct or indirect support for CTP through their programming or financial assistance. We will work to educate the institutions’ staff, recipient governments, and project participants about CTP. We will promote sound technical guidance and norms in the prevention of CTP, including in bilateral and multilateral settings, and will pose specific questions challenging CTP and eligibility requirements when reviewing relevant health guidance and programs across bilateral engagements and international health institutions. Using existing resources, we will emphasize the importance of ensuring broad access to evidence-based SOGIESC affirming care and highlight evidence-based resources for families on expanding supportive and affirming behaviors with LGBTQI+ youth.
We will elevate understanding and strengthen efforts with programming partners to prevent CTP. For instance, we will develop and deploy guidance and tools to systematically embed education and prevention messages to combat CTP and standardize expectations regarding oversight of implementing partners. We will explicitly address CTP during community engagement to increase dialogue about CTP. We will work to ensure that our grants and contracts do not permit or enable CTP and will reaffirm that CTP is inconsistent with our nondiscrimination policies. We will socialize this information with staff, contractors, grant recipients, and their beneficiaries and participants. We will solicit proposals under the Global Equality Fund and the Rainbow Fund for programming to respond to and prevent CTP globally by empowering civil society, improving acceptance of LGBTQI+ persons, and advancing policies with the aim of responding to and preventing CTP.
Finally, to support U.S. citizens abroad, we will review and revise country specific information and the LGBTQI+ pages on travel.state.gov to include safety and security information on CTP overseas. We will also provide resource materials for the U.S. public and provide outreach to U.S. citizen victims.