Iran sanctions ex-US intel chief for efforts to end death penalty for LGBTQ+

Grenell’s work in Germany established him as a  hugely popular figure among Iranian-Germans and Iranian dissidents for his work in seeking a democratic Iran.

 Nila Behzadi with Ric Grenell. (photo credit: Nila Behzadi)
Nila Behzadi with Ric Grenell.
(photo credit: Nila Behzadi)

The Islamic Republic of Iran on Saturday sanctioned former US director of national intelligence Richard Grenell for his work to abolish the death penalty against LGBTQ+ communities in Iran and ensure civil liberties for persecuted sexual minorities.

The Iranian regime-controlled Tehran Times reported the sanctioning of Grenell along with 23 other US officials for “terrorist activity and human rights violations.”

Grenell, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, was the first openly gay member of a US presidential cabinet, was sanctioned by the theocratic state in Tehran due  to “gross violations of human rights.”

The media platform Outspoken Middle East, which reports on the LGBTQ + communities in the Muslim-majority countries, wrote that Iranian regime-controlled TV said in a homophobic report that Grenell’s LGBT activism is “a gross violation of human rights” and “it is against the international law to seduce the youngsters to have same-sex relationships.”

Grenell, along with the gay journalist Chadwick Moore last year announced the start of Outspoken Middle East in a Newsweek article titled “Gay Conservatives Launch Arabic and Farsi Campaigns to Reach Gays Abroad.”

LGBTQ flag (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
LGBTQ flag (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

After Iran’s regime publicly hanged a man in 2019 based on an anti-gay charge, Grenell launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality. Grenell organized the campaign while he was the US ambassador to Germany. Grenell retweeted the Post’s tweet on the Iranian regime’s hanging of the 31-year-old man the same day in 2019, with the comment: “This should be widely condemned. By everyone. It’s outrageous and barbaric."

A 2008 British Wikileaks dispatch revealed that the Islamic Republic of Iran has executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Grenell’s work in Germany established him as a  hugely popular figure among Iranian-Germans and Iranian dissidents for his work in seeking a democratic Iran and his efforts to counter the Islamic Republic’s reported terrorism campaign.

Nila Behzadi, a prominent Iranian-German dissident, told The Post that “the hate against Richard Grenell is more than his LGBT activities in the Middle East. The problem for Iran’s regime was when Richard Grenell criticized Merkel’s government because of business cooperation with the mullahs and when Grenell caused Germany to sanction the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps airline Mahan.”

She added that “the Iranian regime sentences homosexuals to death and executes them with various methods, like throwing them from a roof is nothing new. But that a high-ranking politician stands up for homosexuals in Iran is a big problem for the regime during the nuclear deal talks because attention to the  [regime’s] horrific acts  comes to light and could  endanger their position.”

“Although the Biden administration had long since turned a blind eye to human rights, Ric is one of the most respectable politicians I know. He had always stood by the people of Iran and now wants to stand up for the LGBT community. The Iranian regime wants to silence him with these sanctions. But I'm sure that Ric won't be intimidated by such actions.”

Dr. Kazem Moussavi, the spokesman for the Iran Green party in exile, told the Post that “The threat of assassination or sanctions against American politicians, including Mr. Grenell, during the Vienna nuclear talks points to the terrorist and nonreformable nature of the Islamic Republic, with which President Biden and the West should no longer be negotiating appeasement.”

The US government under both democratic and republican administrations has classified the Islamic Republic as the world's worst state-sponsor of terrorism. 

Moussavi added that "the mullahs are hostile to Mr. Grenell, particularly for his consistent protests against human rights abuses, including the repression of homosexuals in Iran, who are being harassed and executed by the mullahs under the pretense of being Israeli and American spies. The antisemitic regime [in Iran] fights everything it sees as dealing with  Judaism, Zionism, homosexuality, feminism, the removal of the headscarf, human rights and modernity as a whole, the USA and Israel respectively."

He said that "As a member of the opposition, I strongly condemn the threatened sanctions against Mr. Grenell and his American colleagues."