In a move that goes against everything we’ve known up until this point, it appears the Trump Administration has plans to launch a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in every country. NBC reported on the effort Tuesday which will be led by Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany — the highest-level openly gay member of the administration. Homosexuality is still illegal in 73 countries and in some of them punishable by death.
If you’ve even been paying even vague attention to U.S. news since 2016, this latest development probably comes as a bit of a shock. The Trump Administration’s track record with LGBTQ issues hasn’t exactly been stellar — Vice President Mike Pence kind of supported gay conversion therapy, Donald Trump instated a ban barring transgender people from serving in the military and Mike Pence’s wife Karen Pence teaches at an anti-gay art school. So what’s the deal?
Well, it looks like this whole progressive-seeming plan might just be an effort to turn up tensions with Iran.
Yeah, that’s more like it.
What does this have to do with Iran?
The NBC report notes that this new plan is in response to the public hanging of a 31-year-old man in Iran on charges of homosexuality. Grenell tweeted his condemnation of the act shortly after it was reported and wrote an op-ed calling it a “wake-up call.”
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) February 1, 2019
Appalling? Yes. But NBC and other outlets have also pointed out that the connection to Iran might be a little more than it seems. Donald Trump has had it out for the country for some time and just last year, pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal because he doesn’t believe intelligence that says they are abiding by the deal’s terms. Taking the United States out of the deal left a rift between the U.S. and its allies in Europe (particularly Germany and France) and uniting on this issue against Iran might be a way for the U.S. to realign itself with those allies and make them less sympathetic to Iran (so they’ll finally impose sanctions like he wants them to).
It’s a delicate dance though. Donald Trump also has a well-documented friendship with Saudi Arabia, in particular, hyper-controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (made most obvious in his refusal to condemn the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year). Saudi Arabia is one of eight countries where homosexuality is punishable by death.
The Trump admin denies ulterior motives
While the speculation has been that this pro-LGBTQ initiative is motivated by an anti-Iran agenda, Ambassador Grenell is adamant that’s not the case. He responded to a story in Out Magazine that called the plan “a toothless effort, more PR than progressive,” with a simple, “Ummmm? No.”
Ummmm? No. https://t.co/pn6HJFu7vE
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) February 20, 2019
The actual operations of this effort as far as action and scale go have yet to be decided and will reportedly start with a coalition organized in Germany.