Officials have told NBC News that President Donald Trump’s administration wants to launch a global campaign to end criminalization of homosexuality.

Openly gay US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell will lead the campaign. An event to kickoff the initiative will take place in Berlin on Tuesday night.

From NBC News:

The U.S. 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.

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

Although the decriminalization strategy is still being hashed out, officials say it’s likely to include working with global organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as other countries whose laws already allow for gay rights. Other U.S. embassies and diplomatic posts throughout Europe, including the U.S. Mission to the E.U., are involved, as is the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Narrowly focused on criminalization, rather than broader LGBT issues like same-sex marriage, the campaign was conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration’s top geopolitical foe.

For this campaign to work, the administration will have to butt heads against the Middle East governments that Trump has strengthened ties with since he came into office.

72 nations have laws against homosexuality and eight of them have it as a crime punishable by death. This includes Saudi Arabia, one of our the biggest Middle East allies. Trump celebrated a visit to Oman by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he risks alienating them since the country sentences homosexuals to prison.

Grenell condemned the hanging that took place in Iran:

Grenell called the hanging “a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights,” in Bild, a leading German newspaper, this month.

“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. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”

He added that “politicians, the U.N., democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up — and loudly.”

Grenell urged people in his op-ed in Bild that people need to keep speaking out against brutality towards gay people in places like Iran and Chechnya:

“While a student at Evangel University, a Christian liberal arts college in Missouri, I was taught by biblical scholars that all truth is God’s truth, no matter where it is found. The truth for LGBT people is that we were born gay,” Grenell wrote. “People can disagree philosophically about homosexuality, but no person should ever be subject to criminal penalties because they are gay.”

But I thought Trump hated the gays and Vice President Mike Pence wanted to put them in camps!

[Featured image via YouTube]


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