A report by The Jerusalem Post detailing the Iranian regime’s public hanging of a man based on a law against gays led US President Donald Trump’s administration to announce on Tuesday that it will be launching a campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality across the globe.
US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell – who is the administration’s most high-profile openly gay official – told the Post on Tuesday that “71 countries criminalize homosexuality and eight will put you to death for being gay. The Trump administration is launching a new push with our European allies to end this human rights outrage.”
Grenell is spearheading the international effort to stop the persecution of the LGBT community in countries that impose criminal penalties – including the death penalty – on homosexuals.
Grenell credited the Post in a commentary that he wrote for Europe’s largest paper, Germany’s Bild, on February 1: “The recent press reports, first carried by The Jerusalem Post, that the Iranian regime publicly hanged a 31-year-old man for being gay, should be a wake up call for anyone who supports basic human rights. Politicians, the UN, democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up – and loudly.”
“In Iran, where children as young as nine can be sentenced to death, gay teenagers are publicly hanged in order to terrify and intimidate others from coming out. Iran’s horrific actions are on par with the brutality and savagery regularly demonstrated by ISIS,” he added.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the US government initiated the campaign “in part [due] to a reported hanging of a young gay man in Iran, [which is] Trump’s top geopolitical foe.”
Grenell jump-started the campaign on Tuesday in Berlin. According to NBC, “The US Embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality – mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.” The Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday that a source close to Trump said that Grenell is a potential successor to Nikki Haley as ambassador to the UN.
The initiative to decriminalize homosexuality is a coordinated campaign among Western allies, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, European governments and the US State Department. Grenell’s energetic push to stop the repression of those in the LGBT community has been on display since December.
The Washington Post reported that when Grenell met in December with Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi, he used the meeting to convey US concerns about the repression of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Kosovo – a Muslim-majority country with a population of just over 1.8 million.
Muslim-majority countries in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia such as Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Qatar, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and the UAE impose capital punishment on same-sex relations.
On Monday, Grenell tweeted that in response to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s comments at the Munich Security Conference last week that, “A professor who is helping to hang gay students? Criminalizing homosexuality is in direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. #totalBS.”