U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell suggested on Wednesday that he has yet to discuss his new campaign to end laws that criminalize homosexuality in foreign countries with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
In an exclusive NBC News interview in Berlin, Grenell was asked whether Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump himself were on board with his efforts.
“I am happy to talk to them,” Grenell said. “I know that decriminalizing homosexuality is something that people absolutely agree is a policy that we have to move forward on.”
According to NBC News:
The Trump administration effort, first disclosed Tuesday by NBC News, aims at pressuring the 71 countries that still penalize homosexual activity to change their laws, including those that subject gay people to the death penalty or imprisonment. U.S. embassies in Europe and the State Department’s human rights bureau are organizing the effort, which kicked off Tuesday with a strategy dinner that included a dozen LGBT activists from Europe flown in by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.
The vocal push from Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person serving in Trump’s administration, stands in contrast to the administration’s perceived record on gay rights. Vice President Mike Pence, in particular, has faced intense criticism from LGBT groups who argue he’s supported policies that are anti-LGBT, such as opposing same-sex marriage and opposing the lifting of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
Jeremy Kadden, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior international policy advocate, said in a statement on Tuesday that the new global initiative stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s previous record on international LGBT rights.
“Donald Trump and Mike Pence have turned a blind eye to a campaign of violence and murder targeting LGBTQ people in Chechnya that has stretched on for two years,” Kadden said. “They have turned away LGBTQ people fleeing violence and persecution and sent them back to countries that criminalize them, and have consistently worked to undermine the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and our families here at home from day one. If this commitment is real, we have a lot of questions about their intentions and commitments, and are eager to see what proof and action will follow.”
GLAAD tweeted: “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 U.S. over 90 times since taking offic.”
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 U.S. over 90 times since taking office: https://t.co/3xlb2GI4zQ https://t.co/moNa7mG8TJ
— GLAAD (@glaad) February 19, 2019