LGBTQ Activists Around the World Fear Trump Second Term

Activists around the world say President Trump’s reelection would constitute a serious setback for the global LGBTQ rights movement.

Ricardo Sales, founder of Mais Diversidade, a São Paulo-based consultancy that promotes diversity and inclusion throughout Latin America, checks Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog several times a day to see the latest poll results in the U.S. presidential election. The blog predicts Joe Biden has an 88 percent chance of defeating Trump.

“I’m very, very, very anxious about the results of this election because what happens in the U.S. influences so much what happens in Brazil,” said Sales.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a close Trump ally, has been sharply criticized over his rhetoric against LGBTQ Brazilians and other marginalized groups since he took office in 2019.

“If Trump wins, unfortunately, I have no good feelings at all because if Trump wins,
I think Mr. Bolsonaro will be re-elected in two years,” said Sales.

Anjeelee Beegun is the director of Collectif Arc-En-Ciel, an LGBTQ advocacy group in Mauritius, an island country in the Indian Ocean.  Beegun said that LGBTQ rights activists in Mauritius are following the presidential election “with interest.”

“People look up to other countries, look up to the West to see what is happening,” she said. “And when you see that in all these countries that we consider as developed countries that they are saying we should oppose LGBTQ people, you are kind of worried about what messages the general population is receiving when they see a developed country like America is refusing LGBTQ persons, then why should we accept that.”

“Trump or the administration has had a huge impact on unleashing hate, unleashing intolerance well beyond America’s borders,” ILGA World Executive Director André du Plessi added.

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern agreed.

“Another Trump administration would mean more funding for U.S.-based right-wing organizations to spread homophobia and transphobia globally,” she said on Monday in a statement to the Blade. “It would mean more opposition to life-saving global institutions that serve LGBTIQ people, like the World Health Organization. It would mean more examples of the U.S. forging coalitions to oppose social justice movements and equal recognition of the family with some of the most conservative countries in the world.”

“Positions across U.S. foreign policy have been filled with conservative political appointees,” added Stern. “This means that if Trump is re-elected, we can assume that the politics will be what they were in the first term, but on steroids.”

Beegun and Sales both noted the highly partisan confirmation process of Amy Coney Barrett that took place weeks after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

“It was something we are used to seeing in Latin America unfortunately, but I did not think we would see that in the U.S.,” said Sales, referring to Barrett’s rushed confirmation. “What you do in the U.S. affects the whole world.”

Matthew Blaise is a non-binary queer activist in Lagos, Nigeria. They are among those who are participating in protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force known by the acronym SARS that is responsible for widespread human rights abuses in the country.

Blaise said that Nigerians “rejoiced” when the Trump administration rescinded protections for transgender people under the Affordable Care Act.

“It is crazy that most Nigerians look up to the U.S. for direction and emulate them,” said Blaise. “I know this is likely due to vestiges of colonialism and racism, the idea that they are superior. So, whatever happens in the U.S. greatly affects us in Nigeria.”

“If Trump gets re-elected, it will affect the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria negatively,” they added. “Fellow citizens would be more hostile to us because now they have both foreign and domestic governments backing their agenda of hate.”

Peter Tatchell, a prominent British activist, said Biden over the last decade “has been a strong ally of the LGBTQ community.” Tatchell added the former U.S. vice president “is committed to support the international LGBTQ struggle.”

“His victory would reignite hope that the U.S. will become a global champion against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia,” Tatchell told the Blade.

Du Plessis largely agreed, although he cautioned the world is “at a different place now than it was” four years ago when Obama and Biden left office.

“One thing that we did appreciate about the Obama administration is that there was a genuine, meaningful exchange with defenders on the ground to say how can we be helpful, how can we use the vast resources and networks of the U.S. government to help bring about change in your country which is going to be long-term, sustainable and safe for you,” said du Plessis. “That tone and that type of leadership is what is desperately needed globally at the moment.”

“I cannot tell you how much that would be welcomed,” he added. “It would be hugely welcomed.”


Ernesto Valle contributed to this article from San Salvador, El Salvador.