Several prominent LGBTI members of Congress have urged US President Barack Obama to drop Brunei and Malaysia from a major trade deal if they do not repeal their severe anti-gay laws.
In a letter dated 18 February, five of the six co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus praised the president’s gay rights record but sought clarification on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which his administration is trying to fast-track through Congress.
‘We urge you to bring consistency to the administration’s foreign and trade policy,’ the letter reads.
‘The LGBT community looks to your administration to fight for human rights across the globe and we hope you will continue this record of equality by removing Brunei and Malaysia from the TPP if they neglect to address these abuses.’
The letter was signed by Democratic Reps Mark Pocan, David Cicilline, Sean Patrick Maloney, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Takano.
They questioned why the two southeast Asian countries were included in the TPP, when the Gambia was kicked out from an African trade pact after imposing life sentences for ‘aggravated homosexuality.’
Last year, Brunei introduced a Sharia penal code punishing gay sex with death by stoning, and LGBTI people can be be caned and imprisoned for up to 20 years under Malaysian law.