Metro Weekly

Report: Trump administration planning global campaign to end criminalization of homosexuality

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking gay person in Trump's administration, is leading the campaign

Richard Grenell — Photo: U.S. Consulate Munich / Wiki Commons

The Trump administration is prepping a global campaign that will push for an end to the criminalization of homosexuality, according to reports.

NBC News spoke to U.S. officials who said that U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking gay person in Trump’s administration, will lead the campaign.

According to the sources, the push to end criminalization will begin tonight at an event in Berlin, with LGBTQ activists meeting for a strategy dinner.

Details have still to be finalized, but the campaign will focus on decriminalization, instead of a wider gamut of LGBTQ issues such as transgender rights or same-sex marriage.

NBC News reports that the move, which is somewhat at odds with the Trump administration’s actions targeting or affecting the LGBTQ community in America, is in part designed to shame Iran over its human rights record.

Homosexuality is currently illegal in Iran, with same-sex sexual activity punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment (including lashings), and even execution.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution in the country, the country executed “homosexuals, prostitutes and adulterers,” according to the New York Times.

As of 2018, there are 73 countries — mainly in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia — where same-sex sexual activity is still criminalized, according to LGBTQ rights website Equaldex.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” one of the officials involved in the Berlin meeting told NBC News.

The campaign, which will reportedly work with a number of international organizations — including the United Nations and European Union — and nations with strong LGBTQ rights records, was apparently devised after the recent hanging of a young gay man in Iran.

According to the Jerusalem Post, a 31-year-old Iranian man was hanged on Jan. 10 on charges of same-sex sexual activity and kidnapping.

In a column for German newspaper Bild, Grenell called reports of the hanging a “wakeup call for anyone who supports basic human rights.”

“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,” he wrote. “And it sadly won’t be the last time they do it either. Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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