Trump criticized over ‘affection for all things authoritarian’

By : Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade
Comments: 0

A human rights advocate who champions LGBT-specific issues in Africa has sharply criticized Donald Trump for suggesting he would jail Hillary Clinton over her missing emails if he were elected president.

Jeffrey Smith, a Washington-based human rights expert who has worked with LGBT activists from Uganda and other African countries, is the founding director of the Vanguard Africa Movement, which promotes good governance and ethical leadership on the continent. He told the Washington Blade that Trump “once again displayed his affection for all things authoritarian when he vowed to lock up his opponent” at Sunday’s presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

“This sort of vile rhetoric, and these sorts of actions, are commonplace in dictatorships across the world,” said Smith.

Smith noted to the Blade that “credible opposition candidates” in Uganda and Gambia — whose presidents have sparked global outrage in recent years over anti-LGBT laws and rhetoric — “have been jailed on dubious charges” over the last year. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has previously described gays and lesbians as “dogs and pigs,” is among the other African heads of state who have cracked down on their opponents.

“From day one, Donald Trump’s campaign blueprint has been a literal copy-and-paste from the world’s worst autocrats,” Smith told the Blade. “I honestly never thought I’d see the rise of such an individual here in the U.S.”

The Human Rights Campaign did not specifically criticize Trump over his suggestion that he would jail Clinton. The advocacy group, which works with LGBT activists around the world, nevertheless described him as “small, desperate and weak” in a tweet.

Trump made the comments two days after the Washington Post released a recording in which he made lewd comments about women and bragged about sexual assault.

U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) are among the dozens of Republicans who either withdrew their support of Trump or said they would not vote for him. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Oct. 12 there are “so many pussies around your presidential campaign on both sides that I prefer not to comment.”

Clinton has repeatedly criticized Trump over his previous praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who signed a 2013 law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors in his country. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair who resigned in August, has ties to former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and other pro-Russian politicians in the country.

Elvina Yuvakaeva, a Russian activist who is a member of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation, told the Blade last month she is concerned that U.S. efforts to promote LGBT rights abroad would end if Trump were elected president.

“My great concern is that the situation in Russia could become even worse if Trump will be elected,” she said.

A source in Cuba with whom the Blade spoke Oct. 9 noted Trump’s criticism of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for gaining weight after she won the beauty pageant in 1996.

The State Department notes in its 2015 human rights report that the Cuban government carries out “politically motivated detentions and arrests” and “selective prosecutions” and other human rights abuses. Maykel González Vivero, an LGBT rights activist on the Communist island, claims the government-run radio station at which he worked fired him last month because he worked with independent media.

The source with whom the Blade spoke in Cuba compared Trump to Cuban President Raúl Castro.

“He is very offensive,” said the source, referring to Trump. “We live under a dictatorship and will continue with another dictator (if Trump were elected.)”

Share this story: