top of page

LGBTQI+ rights are central to U.S. foreign policy: Eric Garcetti, U.S. Ambassador to India

In an exclusive interview to Pink List India, U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti discusses his ongoing commitment to LGBTQI+ rights, from his tenure as Los Angeles mayor to his current diplomatic role. He talks about adapting his advocacy to the Indian context, the resilience of U.S. support for LGBTQI+ rights, and countering global anti-LGBTQI+ propaganda.

1. In your previous avatars as city councillor and LA mayor, you've championed LGBTQI+ rights. Now, as the U.S. Ambassador to India, how do you see your advocacy adapting to this new context?

Throughout my life, I have been proud to be a leader in the work to bring a more just and equitable world to all human beings by fighting for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) persons. 

Some of the most moving moments I’ve had in my life as a leader have been the times when we have opened up the space for people to live and love outside of the shadows and for the light of people enjoying their fundamental rights and freedoms without fear of reprisal radiating in our world. Previously as LA mayor and now as the U.S. Ambassador to India, I continue to support the vibrant LGBTQI+ community along with champions, allies, and advocates who are forging a more just, equitable, and inclusive world. When love wins, we all win. 

When everyone belongs, we are economically more prosperous, our communities are safer, and our lives are all enriched, so while the location is new, the work is truly universal and continues forward.

2. Since President Obama's creation of a Special Envoy for LGBTQI+ rights, queer equality has been a U.S. diplomatic priority. Do you think this commitment has enough national support to continue across future administrations?

For generations, LGBTQI+ Americans have summoned the courage to live authentically and proudly — even when it meant putting their lives and livelihoods at risk. 

In 1967 at the Black Cat Bar in Los Angeles and then in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York, brave LGBTQI+ individuals protested the violence and marginalisation they faced, boosting a civil rights movement for the liberation of LGBTQI+ people that has transformed our nation.

President Biden has been a staunch supporter of LGBTQI+ persons. He signed the historic Respect for Marriage Act, which protects the marriage of same-sex and interracial couples. He also ended the ban on transgender Americans serving in the United States military and strengthened civil rights protections for housing, employment, health care, education, and the justice system. 

As mayor, I was proud to perform the first same-sex marriage in the history of Los Angeles on the steps of City Hall and to become the first big city to launch a permanent council of transgender and non-binary persons to advise the city on policy.

America is the only nation in the world founded on an idea:  that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. I am hopeful that across future administrations, advancing human rights around the world will continue to be a diplomatic objective of the United States.I think there is always work to be done alongside the LGBTQI+ community to reach a more equal society. I invite everyone to be an ally in this work.

3. We ask this, of course, because of Russia's opposition to LGBTQI+ rights and its geopolitical posturing as a protector of "family values." How is the U.S. countering such state-funded anti-LGBTQI+ propaganda globally?


All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love or where they are. 

Around the globe, LGBTQI+ activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights. The United States is at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values. LGBTQI+ rights are central to U.S. foreign policy, and LGBTQI+ rights are a national security priority. And it makes a lot of sense when you think about it, because to achieve a strong and prosperous society, we have to take everyone’s well-being into account. That’s how we make countries safer and how we make the world safer.

In Mission India, our efforts embody these principals – whether creating safe places for queer people to come together, highlighting LGBTQI+ business owners, or supporting access to healthcare for vulnerable members of the LGBTQI+ community, the U.S. Mission to India is investing in the livelihoods of the LGBTQI+ community.

4. You've gone viral through your food diaries and performance vlogs. Your support for grassroots LGBTQI+ organisations in India has also gained significant media attention. Has this led to any backlash in India or the U.S.?

Many countries around the world support, organise, or participate in events to celebrate the diversity of their citizens, to reduce discrimination and misinformation about the LGBTQI+ community, to build on individual and collective achievements, and to highlight what needs to be done to ensure fundamental human dignity of all individuals and full equality for all human beings regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We believe these diverse efforts and celebrations foster a sense of community and belonging and help to advance human rights for all throughout the world.

We will continue to voice our support for equal protections for LGBTQI+ persons against discrimination and encourage the Indian government to take the necessary steps to offer equal legal protection to same-sex couples. Not only has there not been a backlash, I have made so many new friends and visited so many spaces, met so many new friends, and been able to launch so many new collaborations between our countries by working with the LGBTQI+ communities in India.


5. At Pink List India, we've identified 108 newly elected MPs who have spoken out on LGBTQI+ issues. In light of the recently concluded parliamentary elections, do you see it as part of your mandate to engage with Indian politicians to advance LGBTQI+ rights?

It’s excellent to see Pink List India highlighting politicians supporting LGBTQI+ rights. We support LGBTQI+ community members fighting for recognition of their fundamental human rights and seeking to live full lives, free from hate-fuelled violence and discrimination. But for all the progress, we know real challenges persist.

We regularly engage with the Indian government on human rights collaboration, including over LGBTQI+ rights.  Recently, I met with the Bharat Lal, Secretary-General of the National Commission on Human Rights to learn about the work being done to advance transgender rights and inclusion in India and I am excited to continue that work in the months ahead.


6. Queer activists have long held that the fight for equality must be intersectional. Do you think U.S. silence or perceived complicity regarding the ongoing genocide in Gaza undermines its advocacy for LGBTQI+ rights globally?

Time and again, we have reiterated that the United States and other world leaders will stand behind the comprehensive proposal outlined by President Biden that would lead to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for distribution throughout Gaza.

The United States has for decades been the largest single country provider of assistance for Palestinians and an additional $404 million has been added in new aid to Palestinians. To add to that, more than $1.8 billion in development, economic, and humanitarian aid has been provided by the United States since 2021.

As Secretary Blinken said, the Palestinian civilians suffering in Gaza are not numbers.  They’re not abstractions.  They’re human beings – they’re children, they’re women, they’re men – who all want the same things that we want for ourselves and for our loved ones.


I’m proud to be a diplomat.  Without diplomats and diplomacy, we would see more conflict and more violence, and I believe that we can play a role in saving lives and bringing peace.

If we can recognise the humanity in everyone and commit to doing everything we can to uphold that humanity, then anything is possible.


bottom of page