President Donald Trump’s administration is launching a worldwide campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in countries where it remains illegal.
The push, which will be helmed by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay official in the Trump administration, comes not long after it was reported government officials in Iran publicly hanged a 31-year-old man for being gay.
Iran is a gathering storm of chaos over Europe. Terrorism, threats of death, ballistic missile programs, the hanging of gays. These are NOT European values. https://t.co/hpklA4wAmF
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 31, 2019
In a column in Bild published earlier this month, Grenell wrote the alleged hanging “should be 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. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”
The global campaign, NBC News reported, will be concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.
Speaking about the planning event, which will take place Tuesday night, one unnamed U.S. official said, “It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBT status or conduct.”
Grenell, reportedly on the president’s short list to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is also very outspokenly Christian. When he revealed his sexual orientation to his parents in a letter in 1999, Grenell wrote, “I am writing to tell you that I am gay and I am a Christian.”
The American diplomat grew up in church, constantly attending Christian youth camps and traveling the globe for mission trips. Grenell actively participated in all of it, he told The Atlantic in 2017.
“Growing up in church,” he recalled, “I think I recognized the need for God and that Jesus died for my sins. So I wanted to forge a path toward living a Christian life and learning along that road.”
As for the new initiative — something of a passion project for Grenell — Trump has faced intense criticism from LGBTQ activists over some of his domestic policies, particularly his decision to ban transgender men and women from serving in the armed forces.
It is worth noting, though, the White House has remained fairly impartial on the issue of same-sex marriage and homosexuality in general.