Yesterday, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council (FRC), a certified anti-LGBTQ hate group, was appointed by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to serve as one of ten members on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission … dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.”
While it’s the USCIRF’s job to monitor religious freedom violations globally and make policy recommendations to the U.S. government, Perkins’ opposition to anti-discrimination laws and his long history of anti-LGBTQ hate speech suggests that he’ll use his new position to erode pro-LGBTQ protections around the globe.
A short history of Tony Perkins’ anti-LGBTQ positions
In December 2017, the FRC published an article stating that anti-discrimination laws seek to “redefine religious liberty in America.” The same article said that same-sex marriage erodes religious freedom.
The FRC has fought against gays in the military, the It Gets Better anti-suicide campaign, the banning of conversion therapy and the legalization of gay sex, same-sex parenting and adoption rights. The FRC also believes that gay witches run Washington D.C. (yes, really).
In short, both Perkins and the FRC see LGBTQ rights as threats to religious freedom. Perkins also sees homosexuality and transgender identity as deadly but curable illnesses and Muslims as a threat to Christianity. It’s through these lenses that Perkins will oversee threats to religious freedom internationally.
That’s especially concerning considering that the USCIRF is also supposed to identify countries of particular concern (CPCs) where religious freedom is most under attack. Their current list includes China, Russia and places in the Middle East where LGBTQ activists are fighting for increased civil rights. Perkins may use his new position to try and stand in the way of those rights.
It’s not surprising that Republicans have installed a hate group leader into a religious office. Considering that 81% of evangelical voters voted for Trump and Trump signed a religious liberty executive order in early May, Perkins’ selection for the USCIRF’s commission makes sense for an anti-LGBTQ administration willing to stomp on LGBTQ rights.