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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 04
I took on four heads of state on LGBT rights, Joe Biden says
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I took on four heads of state on LGBT rights, Joe Biden says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Outspoken Vice President Joe Biden says he has taken on at least four foreign heads of state over LGBT rights.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Biden recounted his adventures challenging the heads of homophobic countries.

'I have had some run-ins with at least four heads of state already on this,' he said.

In his talk, Biden dismissed arguments that outsiders should respect local 'culture.'

'LGBT people face violence, harassment, unequal treatment, mistreatment by cops, denial of health care, isolation&always in the name of 'culture'.

'I've had it up to here with 'culture'. I really mean it.

'Culture never justifies rank, raw, discrimination or violation of human rights. There is no cultural justification. None. None. None.

'How can countries still be hiding behind 'This is our culture'? People used to be cannibals; that was part of the 'culture'. People used to do terrible things as part of the 'culture'.

'The progress of humankind has been a steady progress toward acknowledging the basic fundamental rights of other people.'

Biden went on to tell international business leaders that it was up to them to secure real progress toward LGBT equality.

'When it comes to LGBT rights in workplace, the world is looking to you,' he said. 'I know that sounds like hyperbole, sounds like an exaggeration. But they look to you.

'You have more impact than anything the federal government has done, or the Supreme Court of the United States has done, or that Barack Obama or Joe Biden have done lighting up the White House.

'You have more impact. You have more impact in countries around the world than we do on those social issues.'

A longtime supporter of LGBT rights, Biden famously forced President Obama's hand on same-sex marriage in May 2012, publicly backing equality while the president was still officially 'evolving' on the issue.

Reportedly 'chaos erupted inside the West Wing' after news of Biden's comments, but within days Obama had also come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

Again in 2014, Biden advocated an executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace even though the president had already rejected calls for executive action. Biden got his way on that occasion as well, with Obama reversing his position again and signing an order just two months later.

Speaking out about the incidents last summer, Biden said he 'didn't have a problem' getting in front of Obama.

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