US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the panel for the Trump administration’s new Commission on Unalienable Rights and it’s full of people with homophobic and transphobic views.
The State Department first announced the commission right before the start of Pride month. The purpose of the panel is to ‘provide the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters’.
Pompeo said of the commission’s purpose: ‘Words like “rights” can be used by good or evil.’ He also claimed how some have ‘hijacked’ human rights rhetoric, using it instead for ‘dubious or malignant purposes’.
Immediately, LGBTI activists expressed concerns the commission would be a tool to roll back rights. They specifically highlight the panel’s focus on ‘natural law’. In modern politics, many view ‘natural’ as coded language for ‘God-given’ and used as justification for LGBTI discrimination.
Several of the commission’s panelists are religious scholars. Two have previously worked with the Vatican on social issues, while another focuses on moral philosophy and ethics.
Meet the conservative, anti-abortion commission head
Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former ambassador to the Vatican under President George W. Bush, is going to head the commission.
In accepting the position, Glendon echoed Pompeo’s comments. She argued that the ‘world’s worst human rights violators’ misunderstand, manipulate, and ignore basic human rights.
GLAAD compiled a list of the panelists’ bigoted views, from Glendon and beyond.
Previously, Glendon described same-sex marriage as a ‘radical social experiment’ with economic and social costs. She further said that marriage equality ‘impairs’ children.
Glendon also wrote a blurb for the transphobic book When Harry Became Sally, which argues many trans people regret transitioning and described the trans movement as ‘full of contradictions’.
‘When Harry Became Sally is an eminently readable and insightful guide for all who find themselves perplexed by today’s debates on gender identity,’ she wrote of the book.
More boast anti-LGBTI views
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson is one of the founders of the US’ first Muslim liberal arts college and another member of the commission.
He once lectured on the idea that Muslims should repress being gay. Another time, he described homosexuality and same-sex marriage as ‘signs of the End Times’.
Jacqueline Rivers, the Director of Harvard’s Seymour Institute for Black Church Studies, is also on the commission.
In a 2014 speech at the Vatican, she said ‘those who promote what they call marriage equality have unjustly appropriated the language and mantle of… the Civil Rights Movement’.
‘But there can be no equivalence between blacks’ experience of slavery and oppression and the circumstances of homosexuals,’ she added.
Another panelist is Christopher Tollefsen, an author, who has written against transgender people and identity.
In 2015, he wrote against gender confirmation surgery and in favor of conversion therapy: ‘It is a mark of a heartless culture that it encourages such confusion even to the point of encouraging bodily mutilation as a solution to gender dysphoria and prohibiting therapy that might be psychologically and spiritually beneficial.’
The commission is a ‘farce’
There are 10 people total on the commission.
GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said the anti-LGBTI views of these figures prove the commission is a ‘farce’.
‘The Trump Administration is knowingly appointing activists who have made careers out of fighting against LGBTQ progress and is now providing them an opportunity to export their anti-LGBTQ activism around the world through the US State Department.’
She also added the commission ‘illustrates the bold-faced anti-LGBTQ agenda of this administration’.