Trump administration removes Obama-era apology to LGBTI community for government discrimination

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By Pierre Bertrand
Trump administration removes Obama-era apology to LGBTI community for government discrimination

President Donald Trump’s administration has removed from the State Department’s official website an apology from the US federal government to the LGBTI community, one of several message rebranding efforts to have hit government websites since the start of Trump’s presidency.

Published by former Secretary of State John Kerry in January 2017, the apology recognised decades of government discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people based on sexual orientation.

“In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today,” the apology said. “On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the Department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community.”

But it was revealed this week that Kerry’s statement has been removed, prompting concern among activists that the Trump administration will erode LGBTI rights.

It is not the first such government web page focused on the LGBTI community to be taken down by the new White House administration.

Within hours of Trump taking his inaugural oath, Obama’s policy stances , including climate change and any reference to LGBTI issues , were removed from the White House’s official website.

President Trump’s White House website and policies can be found here .

The Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s largest organisations campaigning for equal rights, denounced the Trump administration calling for the web pages to be immediately reinstated.

“If President Trump truly believes in uniting the country, now is the time to make clear whether he will be an ally to the LGBTQ community in our struggle for full equality,” said HRC president Chad Griffin, in a statement published on the campaign’s website. “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect our community and our progress.”

Among the web items also removed was a Department of Labour report on advancing LGBTI rights in the work place.

While the Trump Administration has apparently been busy pushing its policy ideas and erasing traces of Obama’s legacy online, the Trump administration has yet to outline its plan for what may be the most contentious issue facing the new administration – healthcare.

Trump has vowed to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which he ordered scaled back on Jan. 21, the day after his inauguration.

But the Trump administration has not completely changed the White House website from the Obama era. Introduced by the Obama administration is the “We the People” section – on which ordinary citizens can create petitions directly to the president.

Since Trump took office, 17 petitions have been created and two of them have the requisite number of signatures for the petition to be considered and commented on by government .

Within 60 days, the Trump administration will have to respond to a petition requesting Trump release his tax returns and a petition demanding Trump divest or put in a blind trust his business and financial assets.

Among the petitions are ones demanding that climate change and LGBTI issues be reinstated on the White House website.