A Trump victory means a lot of things for many different groups within American society, particularly the LGBTIQ+ community. Both Trump and his running mate Mike Pence have terrifying track records on LGBTIQ+ rights which will leave our communities and allies with lots of work to do over the next four years.
On two of the big policy issues for LGBTIQ+ communities - marriage equality and anti-discrimination provisions - Trump’s record is worrying. Trump is on the record as saying he would “strongly consider” overturning marriage equality. Trump has also suggested that he will sign an amendment to the Discrimination Act which will allow sexual orientation based discrimination.
Notwithstanding his policy platform, Trump’s rhetoric alone is incredibly harmful to LGBTIQ+ people. It is well documented that LGBTIQ+ people already face higher rates of discrimination and bullying, in the workplace, at school and university, and often in the home. Many children still struggle with the coming out process, and LGBTIQ+ communities often have higher rates of mental illness. So Trump’s homophobic rhetoric is cause for great concern.
Australians may be less familiar with Mike Pence, who has previously suggested that money spend on HIV treatment and prevention could be better spend on gay conversion therapy. The prospect of a return to gay conversion therapy - and even the mention of its name by anyone with any semblance of power - is gut wrenching to say the least. Mike Pence has a long history of anti LGBTIQ+ activism, previously as the Governor of Indiana and before that with a conservative think tank.
On a transgender issue which has captured a lot of attention recently - the bathroom laws - the Trump/Pence ticket and the amended Republican platform suggests that states should have the right to choose what they want to do. This represents a movement away from his initial policy position, which was that trans people had the right to choose the bathroom that they wanted to use.
All of this looks very bleak for LGBTIQ+ communities, but remember there are also the issues that are not within the public discourse - violent crime, public health, intersectional queer issues - for which Trump and Pence are similarly showing little regard.
Internationally, the USA has been an important promoter of LGBTIQ+ rights, especially since Hillary Clinton’s now famous speech, which proclaimed that “gay rights are human rights”. There has been much valid critique of the American and Western approach to LGBTIQ+ advocacy in global politics, however, the net benefit of a world leader throwing their support behind the increasingly beleaguered cause is incredibly important. Nevertheless, with a more regressive policy platform on LGBTIQ+ politics domestically, it is also likely that a Trump Presidency will adversely affect American advocacy and support of the global LGBTIQ+ agenda. In a time when the global fight for LGBTIQ+ rights is becoming more polarised than ever, the idea of losing support from any important state is saddening.
In this way, a Trump Presidency does not bode well for LGBTIQ+ rights, in America or internationally. This is not to say that the USA was doing fantastically on LGBTIQ+ rights to begin with, but instead of setting out a hopeful agenda and policy platform and improvement, the Trump/Pence policy agenda is regressive and harmful.
The LGBTIQ+ community must stand in solidarity with our American friends at this trying time, one that shows the fragility of our security and (limited) rights. For the LGBTIQ+ community in Australia, we must maintain the pressure on our government to support advances for our community domestically, and fight to reform LGBTIQ+ discrimination. Internationally, organisations like AllOut and OutRight are already sending out communications about LGBTIQ+ rights in the USA, and have ongoing campaigns about LGBTIQ+ rights globally. There is much to be done and we should not lose faith or hope.