UN expert urges Joe Biden to do more for LGBTQ+ rights amid ‘veritable plague’ of attacks

President Joe Biden is seen wearing a white button up shirt, blue tie and dark suit jacket as he stands in front of a yellow background

An independent United Nations (UN) expert has urged the Biden administration to protect LGBTQ+ people amid findings of a “deliberate effort” to “roll back human rights”.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz told a UN press conference on Tuesday (30 August) that “equality is not yet within reach and in many cases not within sight” for LGBTQ+ communities across the US “despite five decades of progress”.

Madrigal-Borloz, a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program, presented his conclusions at the end of a 10-day visit to the US.

The expert said he is “deeply alarmed by a widespread, profoundly negative riptide, created by deliberate actions to roll back the human rights of LGBT people at state level”.

This includes the “veritable plague of so-called anti-LGBT bills” sweeping across the country, with “deeply discriminatory measures seeking to rebuild stigma against lesbian and gay persons, limiting comprehensive sexual and gender education for all, and access to gender-affirming treatment, sports and single-sex facilities for trans and gender diverse persons”.

A person wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses holds up a sign that reads 'Say gay' in colourful letters and a tiny rainbow underneath

The North Carolina Senate is set to debate legislation – dubbed a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – that would stop discussions on LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms in the state. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty)

Madrigal-Borloz specifically named Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law for the damage it had done to LGBTQ+ youth.

He added that the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade is a regression already impacting women’s health and lives, and a “devastation action” for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women who he said suffer “disproportionately from unwanted pregnancy”.

Inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ people in the US

The expert also spoke of the “significant inequality” faced by LGBTQ+ persons of colour.

He said this includes access to health, education, employment and housing, as well as being “disproportionately impacted by violence”. 

According to Madrigal-Borloz, among young adults aged 18-25, LGBTQ+ people have a 2.2 times greater risk of homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ people, and 23 per cent adults of colour in the community have no form of health coverage.

His findings show 22 per cent of transgender adults and 32 per cent of transgender adults of colour have no form of health coverage.

Madrigal-Borloz also aired concerns about the rates of incarceration of LGBTQ+ people in the US, which he said “appears to be disproportionate with the population averages”.

“Research also suggests that gay men are eleven times more likely as compared to heterosexual men to report being sexually victimised by another inmate, and whereas bisexual males are ten times as likely,” he added.

Housing and income was also addressed, with 48 per cent of LGBTQ+ people earning less than $40,000 per years.

US administration must ‘redouble its efforts’

Madrigal-Borloz said the Biden-Harris administration has adopted “powerful and meaningful actions” to address these challenges.  

But he said these actions were under a “concerted attack”, urging further action.

“In light of a concerted attack to undermine these actions, I exhort the administration to redouble its efforts to support the human rights of all LGBT persons living under its jurisdiction, and helping them to safe waters.”


Madrigal-Borloz was appointed in January 2018 as the UN’s independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.