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.”
A professor who is helping to hang gay students?criminalizing homosexuality is in direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. #totalBS https://t.co/DwhqZIY4CW— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) February 18, 2019
The Post reported on Sunday that two assailants executed Algerian medical student Assil Belalta in a shocking homophobic murder on February 10, where the victim’s blood was smeared on a wall to read “He is Gay.” Belalta was murdered in his student residence at the Taleb Abderrahmane campus in Ben Aknoun, a district just outside the city of Algiers.
In 1966, Algeria outlawed homosexuality based on Islamic Sharia Law. According to Article 338 of Algerian law, “Anyone guilty of a homosexual act is punishable with imprisonment of between two months and two years, and with a fine of 500 to 2000 Algerian Dinars.”
Grenell wrote in Bild that “India, Trinidad and Tobago, Angola, and Belize have recently decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual conduct. But there’s still much more work to be done.”
“Reasonable people can help by speaking out when young gay men are publicly hanged in Iran or shot in Chechnya. And government officials must work harder to demand that UN members decriminalize homosexuality,” he said.
According to a British Wikileaks dispatch, Iran’s mullah regime has executed “between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians” since the country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
In 2016, the Post reported that Iran’s regime had executed a gay adolescent – the first confirmed execution of someone convicted as a minor in the Islamic republic.
Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak Prison in Iran’s Markazi Province on July 18, 2016, after he was convicted of “forced male-to-male anal intercourse” in early 2015.
In 2011, Iran’s regime executed three Iranian men after they were found guilty of charges related to homosexuality.
In 2007, Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Columbia University students that “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.”
After the Post’s report describing the hanging of the 31-year-old man in Iran, Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Niels Annen, a Social Democrat Party politician, attended a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution. Annen told Deutsche Welle on Tuesday that he has “no regrets” about participating in the celebration.