Where does Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley stand on LGBTQ+ issues?

The United States presidential election is set to take place in just over a year’s time, on Tuesday 5 November, with candidates on both Democrat and Republican sides already vying for voters’ attention.

Incumbent president, Democrat Joe Biden, has said he will be seeking a second term, alongside vice-president Kamala Harris.

In a throwback to 2020, next year looks set to be a Biden-Trump rematch as the controversial former president is leading in the polls to be the Republican’s standard-bearer.

Trump – no stranger to controversy since he bowed out of office – is well-ahead of Florida governor Ron DeSantis, with evidence of significant voter support since April.

Among others in the running for the Republican nomination are entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley.

Here’s what we know about Haley and her record on LGBTQ+ rights. 

Who is Nikki Haley?

A former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations, Haley is no stranger to politics and entered the presidential race in February.

At the time, she released a promotional video on X, previously known as Twitter, where she said: “My mom would always say your job isn’t to focus on the differences, but the similarities. Even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.”

If elected, Haley would be the first female president and the first of Indian descent.

She is married to South Carolina army national guard officer Michael, who served a term in Afghanistan in 2012, and the pair have two children.

What has she said about LGBTQ+ rights?

Haley does not have the best record on LGBTQ+ rights.

During her time as governor, she said marriage is only between and man and a woman, and sought to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. While at the UN, she voted against a resolution condemning the death penalty for same-sex acts.

However, at the time, state department spokesperson Heather Nauert clarified the country’s stance, telling reporters: “We voted against that because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances.

“The United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and apostasy. We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalisation.”

Jessica Stern, the executive director of OutRight Action International, an LGBTQ+ human rights non-governmental organisation, also clarified the move, telling NBC: “There’s been some misreporting and misconceptions.

“The US opposes this resolution because it makes reference to a global moratorium on the death penalty. For both Obama and Trump, so long as the death penalty is legal in the US, it takes this position.”

Nikki Haley smiles in a white ribbed top and black jacket
Nikki Haley seems to believe that Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law doesn’t go far enough. (Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After she announced her run for the White House, Haley weighed in on DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay law, which bans classroom discussions of anything remotely LGBTQ+-related – suggesting it does not go far enough.

“When I was in school, you didn’t have sex ed[ucation] until seventh grade. Even then, your parents had to sign whether you could take the class,” Fox News reported her as saying.

“We should not be talking to kids in elementary school about gender, period. Schools need to be teaching reading and math and science. They don’t need to be teaching whether they think you’re a boy or a girl.”

This is not the only time Haley has shared her views on gender. She has claimed that transgender people playing sports is the  “women’s issue of our time”.

More recently, in June, she made the bizarre claim that teenage girls are contemplating suicide because trans girls share the same spaces as them. 

During a CNN town hall meeting, the candidate said: “My daughter ran track in high school. I don’t even know how I would have that conversation with her.

“How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? Then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year.” 

What is Haley’s likelihood of winning the Republican nomination?

Haley is currently sitting third in the polls, well behind Trump, and trailing DeSantis more closely.

She has a favourability rating of 34 per cent, but an unfavourability score of 37 per cent.

Data from Morning Consult also shows her holding nine per cent of Republican votes.