President Joe Biden warned Tuesday of "rising hate and violence" against the LGBTQ community amid a recent uptick in charged rhetoric around LGBTQ issues across the country.
The president issued the warning on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Recognized annually on May 17, it commemorates the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
"Since that time, there has been much progress," the president said in a statement. "But we continue to witness disturbing setbacks and rising hate and violence targeting LGBTQI+ people in the United States and around the world. This is wrong."
In recent months, conservative lawmakers, television pundits and other public figures have accused opponents of a newly enacted Florida education legislation — which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law — of trying to "groom" or "indoctrinate" children.
The word “grooming” has long been associated with mischaracterizing LGBTQ people, particularly gay men and transgender women, as child sex abusers.
As the rhetoric surrounding LGBTQ issues has become more charged, several LGBTQ safe spaces and celebrations have also been targeted with threats or acts of violence.
In February, a party for the Black queer community at Brooklyn bar, Nowadays, was interrupted by a pepper-spray bomb. Last month, a man walked into a New York City gay bar, Rash Bar, with a bottle of flammable liquid and set the venue on fire.
And late last year, LGBTQ Americans were spooked when federal prosecutors arrested a man who they said threatened to attack this year’s New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk," referring to the massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida that left 49 people dead and dozens injured.
This year, at least 12 transgender transgender people were also fatally shot or killed "by other violent means," according to the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ advocacy group. Last year, the country had a record number of violent fatal incidents against trans people living in the United States, 50, the HRC found.
Biden’s warning also comes as a historic amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation is under consideration throughout the country.
More than 320 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year, according to the HRC.
The president condemned the slew of legislation on Tuesday and suggested it could fuel more hate-based attacks against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
“Make no mistake: Hateful legislative attacks against members of our own LGBTQI+ community cannot be tolerated in America or anywhere else,” he said. “They spur discrimination and can stoke violence.”
“Hate is hate — and all of us have a responsibility to speak out against hate wherever we find it,” he added.