Trump Administration Working to Decriminalize Homosexuality Worldwide


Jake Gant, Staff Writer

It is well known that people can be very critical of differences. It seems we always find a way to lash out at said differences. It’s a sad truth, and one that the Trump Administration is willing to address in response to notably horrific Iranian policies regarding homosexuality. On January 10th,  an unidentified man, was publicly hanged in the Iranian city of Kazaroon for being an active homosexual.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany and one of the largest gay rights advocates in the Trump Administration is leading the Administration’s new campaign against criminalized homosexuality. The United States embassy is flying in LGBT activists from all across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan and push for the decriminalization of homosexuality in places that still outlaw homosexuality. This turns attention to the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

Although the decriminalization strategy is still open for discussion, officials say it’s likely to 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 are involved, as is the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Reframing the conversation on Iran around a human rights issue that fancies broad support in Europe could help the United States and Europe reach a point of agreement on Iran. Grenell called the hanging “a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights.”

“Isn’t America a beacon of personal freedoms and liberty to the free world?” asks Guy Gaylord, a member of the LGBT community and open Trump supporter in response to Trump’s critics who say he isn’t the right President to be making this effort.

“The same people who sat quietly while Obama did no such thing? People who think they have it worst in the United States while their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are being slaughtered in most countries globally unless they stay quiet or flee?”

Trump’s policy is a notable shift from Obama-era foreign policy, with the notable Iran Nuclear Deal and more policies that opened relations with other countries who criminalize homosexuality.

“I have mixed feelings about the Trump Administration’s push to decriminalize homosexuality,” states Seth Manning, a Political Science student at East Tennessee State University, self proclaimed progressive and member of the LGBT community.

“On one hand, I think that having a highly recognized right-wing administration promote such an issue can encourage other similar groups to [follow suit]. On the other hand, given the transgender ban and a rescinding of Obama-era workplace protections for LGBT persons, I remain skeptical of the commitment. This is going to be an issue where we have to wait and see what comes to fruition.”

This leads to another question:could we see a change in the near future with the Trump administration and LGBT-related policies and even relations with the LGBT community which have been very mixed and inconsistent?

“If the Trump admin pulls through on the measure, it could have minor effects both in terms of losing his base as well as gaining support in the LGBT community. The reason bigger change won’t happen is largely that in the American two-party system there isn’t an acceptable alternative for conservative evangelicals or most LGBT voters. As far as being good for Trump and America, it would be positive for both. For Trump, I don’t see him gaining or losing many voters, but it does add to his long term legacy. For America, it helps us maintain our reputation as a leader on the world stage and it shows an ability, despite deep political divisions, to agree on certain basic human rights,” Manning continues.

The Trump Administration appears to be running full-steam ahead on this project, with Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supporting the work by U.S. embassies and consulates to fight violence and discrimination against LGBT people. In his Senate confirmation hearing, Pompeo asserted: “I deeply believe that LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person in the world would have.”

This is still a developing project, but it will be interesting to see what comes of this effort, and what will be written in the book of history by the President nobody saw coming.