August 31, 2017 at 10:10 am PST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
U.N. human rights chief criticizes Trump over trans, media comments
global forum, Human Rights Day, gay news, Washington Blade

The United Nations’ human rights chief on Aug. 30, 2017, criticized President Trump for his comments against transgender people, Muslims and other groups that include the U.S. media. (Photo by sanjitbakshi; courtesy Flickr)

The United Nations’ human rights chief on Wednesday criticized President Trump over his statements against transgender people and other minority groups.

The New York Times reported U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told reporters during a press conference in Geneva that Trump’s comments about Muslims and trans people, among others, are “grossly irresponsible.”

“It emboldens those who think similarly to sharpen their assaults on these communities,” said al-Hussein.

Al-Hussein spoke to reporters less than a week after Trump directed the Pentagon to implement a ban on trans servicemembers that he announced last month.

Australia, Bolivia, Canada and New Zealand are among the 18 countries that allow trans people to serve in their respective armed forces. Capt. Shachar Erez, who is the first trans officer in the Israel Defense Force, last month described Trump’s decision to ban trans people from the U.S. military as “simply pure transphobic discrimination.”

The New York Times on Wednesday reported al-Hussein also criticized Trump for his continued attacks against the U.S. media, referring specifically to comments that he made earlier this month at a Phoenix rally.

“It’s really quite amazing when you think that freedom of the press, not only a cornerstone of the Constitution but very much something the United States defended over the years, is now itself under attack from the president himself,” said al-Hussein, according to the New York Times. “It’s a stunning turnaround.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in an email to the New York Times defended Trump’s comments, while noting the administration believes “in a free press and think it is an important part of our democracy.”

The president continues to face criticism over his response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12 that left Heather Heyer dead and more than a dozen others injured.

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in an Aug. 16 press release condemned the rally. The panel of U.N. human rights experts later called upon the Trump administration and “high-level politicians and public officials to unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech in Charlottesville and throughout the country.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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