The State Department is standing by its decision to spend $10,000 in taxpayer funds on a film festival that featured movies with incest and pedophilia, according to communications with Congress obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The State Department is defending a $10,000 grant awarded to Queer Lisboa, an international queer film festival held in Portugal, saying that it has no problem awarding taxpayer funds to a film festival that displayed controversial movies featuring drag queens, acts of incest, and pedophilia.
"The United States strongly supports protecting and promoting the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons," the State Department wrote to Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), who raised concerns about the grant during a July hearing. "We support freedom of expression and do not censor our grantee’s content or products."
The State Department’s comments are fueling accusations that it is abandoning its traditional diplomatic responsibilities to drive a radical social agenda that damages the United States abroad. With threats increasing from hostile countries such as China, Russia, and Iran, the State Department is abusing taxpayer funds to push a radical woke agenda, critics like Rubio say.
"Instead of focusing on combating rogue regimes like the Chinese Communist Party, the Kremlin, or the Mullahs in Tehran, the Biden administration is using our diplomats to advance a radical, Marxist social agenda at home and abroad," Rubio told the Free Beacon.
Rubio grilled the State Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, about the grant in July, asking: "How would promoting a drag queen film festival in Portugal advance our national interest?" Abercrombie-Winstanley said she didn’t know.
The grant came as part of the Biden administration's push to "support LGBTQI+ and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility efforts" abroad, according to a State Department official.
The grant helped fund "one of the most popular LGBTQI+ film festivals in Europe since 1997," according to the State Department. "The grant supported the screening of the iconic 1991 LGBTQI+ film My Own Private Idaho amongst other films by Gus Van Sant and influential American LGBTQI+ filmmakers, bringing an American perspective and talent to the festival."
Other films included P.S. Burn This Letter Please, a documentary about drag culture in New York City; Saint-Narcisse, a film featuring incestuous twins; and Minyan, a movie about a 17-year-old Jewish boy who leaves his parents to explore New York City’s gay scene and later has sex with an adult bartender, as the Free Beacon first reported.
The State Department says the grant to this film festival is just one piece of efforts to promote "human rights and social inclusion of LGBTQI+" people abroad.
"This award made up one part of our overall Public Diplomacy engagement between the United States and Portugal, supporting our shared values on human rights and social inclusion of LGBTQI+ persons, while advancing our overall diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility efforts," the State Department told Rubio.