Jun 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Blinken says he raises LGBTQ+ rights "in every conversation" with Saudis

Photo of Antony Blinken speaking from a podium while Evan Ryan stands behind him

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, flanked by his wife Evan Ryan, delivers remarks at a Diplomatic Corps reception at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on June 16, 2022. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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.

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