Barely a month after his inauguration as the 45th President of the Unites States of America, Donald John Trump has issued executive orders that have left the world especially refugees and LGBTI persons questioning what the future holds.
Trump who throughout his campaign echoed his plans to enforce these policies has now closed the borders of the United States ; this order fundamentally changes decades of US policy ad blocks seven predominantly Islamic states from access to the Unites States as well as halts refugee resettlements for up to 120 days.
The countries that were listed in Trump’s executive order include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The changes were effected immediately as many people bearing passports and Visas issued in the listed countries were stopped from boarding their flights to the US the very day after the order issuance. Those who managed to make their way to America were detained on arrival.
What does it mean for refugee acceptance?
The UN Refugee Convention provides refugees with a strong set of rights. However, it applies only when a refugee is within a signatory country's territory or jurisdiction. The convention does not oblige any signatory to accept other refugees.
However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) considers resettlement to be one of three "durable solutions”, alongside voluntary repatriation and integration in a host community. These solutions enable refugees to live their lives in dignity and peace.
Resettlement also has important geostrategic implications.
The US resettlement program has long had strong bipartisan support. But it is also critical to global refugee resettlement. The US takes in by far the most resettled refugees of any country. Canada and Australia are a distant second and third.
Trump's ban will also have two wider effects.
It appears not to be affecting the November agreement between Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island in the US in exchange for Australia accepting a group of Central American refugees. Many of those on Nauru and Manus Island come from Iran, Iraq and Somalia.
The Australian Government remains keen for the deal to go ahead. But US Republican politicians have previously been critical of the deal.
Globally, the shutdown will have lasting and detrimental effects for refugees. In the Middle East, it may prove to be a boon to the Islamic State. The terrorist group has long sought to disrupt refugee movements.
The ban will also put more pressure on refugee-hosting countries. About 90 per cent of the world's refugees are in the developing world. The international refugee system works through burden-sharing: host countries know that at least some refugees will be resettled and that they will receive financial assistance for the refugees from the UNHCR and other organisations and governments.
Donald Trump has also been a consistent opponent of marriage equality. Trump during his campaign said he would sign the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would enable Kim Davis-style discrimination across the country.
Here are his positions on some of the issues that directly affect LGBT persons.
Marriage: Trump has been a consistent opponent of marriage equality. He said that he opposed it because he was a “traditional” guy, choosing to support domestic partnership benefits instead. Trump later reversed himself and said he also opposed civil unions. Despite a brief flirtation with “evolving” in 2013, Trump has consistently maintained his opposition to marriage equality, sometimes by citing polling and making an analogy to his dislike of long golf putters. After the Supreme Court ruling, Trump said the court had made its decision and, although he disagreed with the ruling, he did not support a constitutional amendment that would allow states to re-ban marriage equality. He later said he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would be committed to overturning the ruling.
Discrimination: While Trump at one time said that federal law should protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, he has taken aggressively anti-equality positions as a formal candidate. Trump has expressed support for the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would lead to more Kim Davis-style discrimination. He has declined to support the Equality Act.
Transgender Equality: Trump expressed support for North Carolina’s HB2, he’s said he would rescind the Obama Administration’s guidance that transgender students be treated with dignity and allowed to use restrooms that match their gender identity, and when it comes to governors like Pat McCrory that write discrimination into state law, Trump has made it clear he would not enforce federal civil rights laws ensure transgender Americans are treated equally under the law.
Executive Order: Trump has said he disagreed with President Obama’s use of executive orders, but has shown willingness to use them himself.
Conversion Therapy: Unclear
Harmful Rhetoric: Trump hired two operatives with a history of anti-equality rhetoric to leads his campaign. Prior to becoming a candidate, Trump said that Pat Buchanan’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric was disgusting, and he said that LGBTQ groups were glad he was hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Russia to challenge the status quo. But he launched ad hominem attacks on Ariana Huffington and Bette Midler, and he defended a CEO who resigned after opposing Proposition 8 and an NFL player who criticized Michael Sam.
Some of the information contained herein was sourced from human rights campaign (hrc.org) and abc.net