LGBTQ rights groups have reacted with skepticism at news that the Trump administration is launching a campaign to decriminalise homosexuality around the world.
US officials told NBC that the project will seek to end the jailing and persecution of LGBTQ people by governments in “dozens of nations.”
The campaign is set to be launched in Europe on Tuesday by America’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who is himself openly gay. NBC reported that LGBTQ activists are being flown in to Berlin for a “strategy dinner.”
“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” an unnamed official said.
It’s believed that the campaign is at least in part motivated by US efforts to isolate Iran by focusing on that country’s human rights record. Iran was recently in the news for hanging a 31-year-old man who was found guilty of violating the country’s anti-gay laws.
European nations have infuriated the US by refusing to go along with American sanctions against Iran. It’s been speculated that the decriminalisation campaign could be a means by which to pressure them to do so.
According to Erasing 76 Crimes, 73 countries still crimimalise homosexuality in some way, with Iran being among a handful that may impose the death penalty.
Speaking to Out, journalist Josh Lederman, who wrote the NBC story, also seemed to suggest that the Trump campaign was likely primarily aimed at targeting Iran rather than really supporting LGBTQ people. “We know Trump is very focused on Iran and is looking for ways to demonize it in the public opinion and this is one area where you know the US and European countries see eye to eye on Iran,” he said.
While details of the campaign are still to be announced, some groups have already sought to question the Trump administration’s motives and credibility.
In a tweet, the Human Rights Campaign noted that, “The Trump-Pence administration has consistently worked to undermine the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and our families from day one.”
Media advocacy group GLAAD added: “We’d believe that the Trump administration will work to protect LGBTQ people around the world if they had not attacked LGBTQ people in the US over 90 times since taking office.”
Since his election, President Trump’s administration has sought to revoke protections for LGBTQ people in America. This has included trying to ban transgender personnel in the military and giving its support for LGBTQ discrimination in schools, employment, healthcare and other services, on the basis of “religious freedom”.