On Thursday, US President Joe Biden issued a Presidential memorandum aimed at expanding protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people worldwide, including potential use of financial sanctions.

In 2011, Barack Obama issued the first Presidential memorandum directing US agencies abroad to promote LGBTQI rights globally. Biden indicated that his order “builds upon that historic legacy.” LGBTQI rights have been a key part of Biden’s campaign. In 2012, Biden strove towards LGBTQI equality by declaring his support for marriage equality on Meet The Press.

“Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out is what all marriages, at their root, are about,” Biden had said. Earlier Thursday, he announced the directive in a speech at the Department Of State and promised to “reinvigorate our leadership on LGBTQI issues and to do it internationally.” He emphasised increasing the presence of the United States on the world stage.

“When we defend equal rights of the people the world over, of women and girls, of LGBTQI individuals, indigenous communities and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion, we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America,” Biden said.

“We’ve seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in January. “I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on immediately.”

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 After taking office, Biden repealed the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. He has also promised to help in the passage of the Equality Act, which adds gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected characteristics in numerous federal civil rights measures. Moreover, his LGBTQI platform reinstates protections for transgender women of colour suffering from violence, LGBTQI people experiencing homelessness, and also aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2025.

“It reflects his deep commitment to these issues both here in the United States and everywhere around the world. The United States will speak out and act on behalf of these rights as we go,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan at an earlier White House press briefing.

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQI civil rights organisation, said that the memorandum signalled that “the United States is a nation that values LGBTQI people at home and abroad, and is willing to fight to ensure every person is able to live free and equal.”

“ [I am] pleased to see that refugee and LGBTQI concerns [are] featured so prominently in the President’s first major foreign policy speech,” said Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, an LGBTQ foreign-policy advocacy group.

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