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LGBTQ+ Groups Beg United Nations to Protect Them From Trump

LGBTQ+ Groups Beg United Nations to Protect Them From Trump

Oganizations like Lambda Legal and Equality California call the White House “increasingly hostile to the rights of [LGBTQ+] people.”

If you needed a sign of how bad things have gotten, a coalition of 50 advocacy groups appealed to the United Nations this week to intervene in the White House's attacks on LGBTQ+ people.

In a letter addressed to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, organizations like the National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Law Center, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights claim that the Trump administration is "increasingly hostile to the rights of [LGBTQ+] people."

"[T]he current United States administration has actively sought to roll back a range of recently-enacted protections against discrimination for people who are LGBTQ," the Sept. 1 letter states, adding that Trump's Department of Justice has "asserted that U.S. civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace do not afford protections to people who are discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Those claims were made in a series of briefs filed by the Justice Department in a trio of cases set to be heard by the Supreme Court on Oct. 8: Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. The outcome will decide whether LGBTQ+ people are entitled to protection under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans workplace discrimination on the basis of characteristics like national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, and sex.

In an August 23 brief, DOJ Solicitor Noel Francisco says the "statute's plain text makes clear that it does not" ban discrimination on the basis of LGBTQ+ identity.

"Discrimination because of 'sex' forbids treating members of one sex worse than similarly situated members of the other -- and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, standing alone, does not result in such treatment," he wrote in the cases of Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, who were dismissed from their positions because they are gay.

If the Trump administration is able to persuade the Supreme Court to permit anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, advocacy groups predict the outcome could be disastrous for queer and transgender people across the country.

"[I]f the Supreme Court ultimately sides with the United States government, discrimination against [LGBTQ+] people in the United States will enjoy state sanction," the organizations argue. "An unfavorable Supreme Court ruling would also mean that many [LGBTQ+] people would have little to no recourse when their right to earn a living is abridged."

"As such, the U.S. government's recent hostility to [LGBTQ+] persons has created a landscape where their enjoyment of core human rights remains in peril," they add.

Should the Supreme Court -- which boasts two Trump appointees on the bench -- undo decades of legal rulings affirming the right of LGBTQ+ people to protection under U.S. civil rights laws, groups urge the U.N. to "devote focus and attention to [LGBTQ+] people's experiences with discrimination and inequality."

"The treatment of [LGBTQ+] employees and job applicants raises significant concerns under international human rights law," the letter says. "[...] Employment discrimination also exacerbates the other forms of systematic discrimination and bias that [LGBTQ+] people experience, leading to extreme poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and other devastating consequences."

The U.N. has repeatedly affirmed the rights of LGBTQ+ people to dignity and safety. The international regulatory body passed a 1994 resolution saying laws criminalizing homosexuality violate human rights, spoken out against campaigns targeting LGBTQ+ people for arrest, has called on member countries to end anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, appointed an independent expert on violence against LGBTQ+ people, and pushed to classify LGBTQ+ rights as human rights.

In recent years, the U.S. under Trump has repeatedly attempted to undermine LGBTQ+ rights at the U.N.

At the time of writing, the U.N. has yet to respond to the plea, which was also co-signed by the National Black Justice Coalition, Equality California, OutRight Action International, Gender Justice, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Trans Lifeline, and Movement Advancement Project.

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