President Trump‘s administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality.
The campaign targets dozens of nations where it’s still illegal to be gay.
U.S. officials say the bid is aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.
Leading the effort is U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, which starts on Tuesday evening in Berlin.
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.
Officials say the campaign will likely 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.
The campaign was conceived partly in response to the recently reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran.
In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punishable by death, according to a 2017 worldwide report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). The report identified 72 nations that still criminalize homosexuality, including eight where it is punishable by death.
That list includes the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Afghanistan — all U.S. allies — although those countries aren’t reported
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