Prominent LGBT members of Congress recently assailed the Obama administration for including Brunei and Malaysia—two nations deeply hostile to gay communities—in major trade talks.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, five cochairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus—Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mark Takano (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)—posed sharp questions about why countries that promote the execution or imprisonment of gay people should be granted trade perks from the United States. Brunei recently imposed a Sharia penal system punishing gay sex with execution, and Malaysian law allows LGBT people to be caned and imprisoned for up to 20 years.
“Brunei continues to move forward with full implementation of a strict penal code mandating the stoning to death of LGBT citizens; similarly, Malaysia has not taken action to end its persecution of LGBT individuals,” the letter read. “Despite these abuses, the administration continues to include them in negotiations around the TPP and lists them as intended signatories to the trade agreement.”