US President Barack Obama has used his farewell speech to call for global action on LGBTI rights.
The President thanked supporters for making same-sex marriage a reality in the US, and urged Americans not to “take for granted” democracy and freedom.
“We cannot withdraw from global fights to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights,” he said in the speech.
The past eight years have seen the US repeal its ban on gays in the military, extend anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTI citizens, and take steps to end discrimination in healthcare provision. The President has also supported efforts to end abusive anti-gay ‘conversion’ therapy.
Obama called for better acceptance of LGBTI people in the community.
“Laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change,” he said.
The outgoing President spoke of the importance of understanding the lives and challenges of others.
“For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face—the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American,” he said.
In its last fortnight of power, the Obama administration has also asked a federal appeals court to scrap a lower court’s decision that suspended policies to protect trans bathroom rights. The case, over whether trans workers and students should have access to facilities matching their gender, began last year.
Obama is widely considered the most progressive president in US history on LGBTI issues, and has employed a number of openly gay ambassadors and officials during his tenure.