“Hate is on the rise:” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
It is one of the most powerful civil rights organizations in the United States.
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The activist, who assumed the presidency of HRC on Monday, the most powerful LGTBI civil rights organization in the United States, with three million members and supporters, stressed after taking office that her task will not be easy while hate acts towards these communities continues to grow.
In an interview with El País, Robinson highlighted:
We know that anti-LGBTI hatred is on the rise and that armed violence, fueled by political extremism, affects our community in a devastating way. Many lives have been taken from us, from Pulse (an Orlando nightclub where a shooter killed 49 people in the deadliest homophobic attack in the country's history in 2016) to Colorado Springs. This has been going on for far too long.
Robinson, who until recently served as executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the policy and advocacy arm of America's leading abortion rights organization, assumes HRC's chairmanship more than a year after the dismissal of her predecessor in office, Alphonso David, after it was revealed that he had advised the former Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, on the best way to deal with the accusations of sexual harassment that ended with his resignation.
At 36, Robinson will be the first openly queer African-American woman to chair HRC, an appointment that reflects the urgency of diversity in power in the United States.
“Representation is important. One of my highest priorities will be to attract more non-white people into the movement and create leadership opportunities for them. I am happy to chain my previous work with this one. They are interconnected struggles, both have to do with bodily autonomy; either because you decide to access the abortion or because you want to love whoever you want,” Robinson stressed.
We’ve seen a surge in political attacks and rhetoric against our community that threaten the lives of LGBTQ+ people and keep our community from the very resources and support we need to survive. We need our allies to speak out and unite against hate. pic.twitter.com/eiBNwfcbo6— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 27, 2022
With her arrival at HRC, Robinson will prioritize the rights of transgender people, focusing primarily on working against what she calls "political attacks on the community" following discriminatory and regressive laws that have been passed in some states from the south.
The leader makes special reference to the "Don't Say Gay Law,” promoted by the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, which prohibits class discussion between teachers and students about sexual orientation and gender identity until the age of nine, and it only allows it in later courses, but only when it is deemed “age or developmentally appropriate” for students, encouraging parents to report teachers who skip it.
“When its processing began, we observed a 400% increase in misinformation and harassment of LGTBI children on the Internet. They have declared a culture war against our children. Politicians open the door for them to be attacked,” emphasizes Robinson.
Criticism of the Supreme Court
Robinson highlighted how Clarence Thomas, considered the most conservative Supreme Court judge, in addition to influencing the ruling that struck down the federal right to abortion guaranteed by the Roe v. Wade ruling in the middle of the year, also included an opinion that sought to review the precedents laws of 3 sentences:
- The one that in 2015 legalized gay marriage
- The one that buried the ban on same-sex relationships in 2003
- The one that allowed married couples to use contraceptives in 1965
“With this Supreme Court we cannot take any right that derives from the courts for granted. Even with Roe in effect, abortion was in many ways only a nominal right. People couldn't take leave from work to terminate their pregnancy. There were mandatory waiting periods between the medical examination and the intervention, as well as regulations aimed at making the work of providers more difficult. A law like the one that is in process would fix all of that," Robinson said before the results of the midterm elections were known, a process that will now surely be postponed because the Republicans ended up with a majority in the House of Representatives.
For Robinson, a descendant of the first black family in Muscatine (Iowa), it is urgent to codify reproductive freedom by approving the Women's Health Protection Act, which passed Congress before the summer and crashed against Republican veto in the Senate
“This is a terrifying time for America. Democracy is in danger, and the country for which my ancestors fought. Those who advocate making America great again (Make America Great Again, the slogan of the movement championed by Donald Trump) actually want to go back to a time when people like me didn't have the same rights as white people. It is our obligation to remind them that they are not the majority, and that the Supreme Court's decision does not reflect the feelings of society," Robinson stressed.
HRC estimates that there have been at least 300 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the past decade, including 32 in 2022.