Blinken says he raises LGBTQ+ rights "in every conversation" with Saudis
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with Politico Thursday that he raises LGBTQ+ rights in meetings with Saudi officials "invariably, in every conversation," but stood by President Biden's planned July visit to Saudi Arabia.
Why it matters: The kingdom has criminalized same-sex sexual activity, which can carry the death penalty, and sets a range of severe restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights.
What he's saying: In discussions of LGBTQ+ rights with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, "we have real engagement," Blinken told Politico.
- But America's foreign policy does not only encompass human rights, he added. "Everything has to be reflected in what we do."
- "We were determined from day one to recalibrate the relationship: not rupture, recalibrate."
The big picture: The Biden administration has in some instances defended LGBTQ+ rights in countries that criminalize homosexuality.
- The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait tweeted its support for LGBTQ+ rights in English and Arabic to mark Pride Month earlier this month, leading Kuwait's government to summon a senior U.S. diplomat in retaliation.
Yes, but: Its attempt at a balancing act has also spurred criticism that the administration fails to respond with urgency when LGBTQ+ rights come under attack in other countries, Politico notes.