Trump Administration Campaign Aims to Decriminalize Homosexuality Worldwide

But is there an ulterior motive?

The Trump administration has announced it is launching an effort to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide.

Officials told NBC they hope to end the practice of punishing people for being gay, either by putting them to death or incarcerating them, which is still taking place in dozens of countries, mostly in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” said one official involved in the effort.

Richard Grenell (below), the U.S. Ambassador to Germany and the highest-profile openly gay individual in the administration, is reportedly leading the effort, which will begin tonight, in Berlin, with the U.S. embassy flying in LGBTQ activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner. It is expected that the U.S. will work with global organizations like the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to meet its goals on the issue.

richard grenell
DANIEL BOCKWOLDT/AFP/Getty Image

The organizational attempt is being questioned as a possible end-around to get other countries involved in the United States’ efforts to go after Iran, where a gay man was reportedly recently hanged.

Grenell has been a vocal critic of Iran, pressuring European nations to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions against the country. The Trump administration has stepped up its own sanctions on Iran, but has had trouble finding European allies willing to join in those efforts.

“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” Grenell wrote in an essay for German newspaper Bild. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”

“Reasonable people can help by speaking out when young gay men are publically hanged in Iran or shot in Chechnya. And government officials must work harder to demand that UN Members decriminalize homosexuality.”

The anti-LGBTQ detentions, assaults, and murders in Chechnya have resumed with even more brutal force, and the U.S. State Department and European Parliament have both called on Russia to investigate.

The Trump administration must face the difficulties of both not upsetting its allies who still have laws against homosexuality, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan, and also calling attention to its own less-than-stellar record on LGBTQ rights at home.

Grenell is reportedly being considered to replace Nikki Haley as Trump’s ambassador to the U.N. He previously served as spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., under John Bolton.

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