LGBTI rights groups have expressed concern following United States President, Donald Trump’s new initiative to support faith-based organisations with federal assistance.
Signing the initiative’s executive order on the United States’ National Day of Prayer, Trump said during a signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden the program will “help design new policies that recognise the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country.”
However, the initiative has caused concern within the LGBTI community, with LGBTI rights groups worried that such initiatives may enable additional LGBTI discrimination, and “religious freedom” legislation.
“This office will also help ensure that faith-based organisations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs,” Trump added.
“We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God.”
Along with allocating state funding to religious organisations, the executive order also renames the Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, as the White House Faith & Opportunity Initiative.
According to the White House, the initiative will provide policy recommendations for the administration’s faith-based and community programs, such as ideas on helping these programs deliver more effective solutions to combat poverty.
Tony Perkins, who is the president of the anti-LGBTI Family Research Council, praised Trump for the initiative in a statement.
“The announcement of President Trump’s faith initiative is further evidence that this administration is not only committed to protecting our First Freedom but in also acknowledging that our faith in God contributes to the guidance and well-being of our country,” Perkins said.
Speaking about the initiative, Daniel Mach, who is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s program on freedom of religion and belief, said that the new initiative must not direct taxpayer money to organisations that discriminate against LGBTI people.
“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental and cherished rights. But that freedom does not give any of us the right to harm other people, to impose our beliefs on others, or to discriminate,” Mach said.
“The ACLU will be watching this initiative closely to ensure that it does not promote policies that violate these core principles.”