The Trump Administration has announced it plans to campaign for the decriminalisation of homosexuality worldwide.
The campaign will be headed by the US’ highest-profile openly gay diplomat Richard Grenell, who is currently the US Ambassador to Germany.
Mr Grenell kicked things off in Berlin earlier this week by flying in LGBTIQ rights campaigners from across Europe to launch the campaign and seek their perspectives.
U.S. officials told NBC News that the launching the campaign to end criminalisation of homosexuality across the world is partly a bid to denounce Iran’s human rights abuses.
But reforms such as marriage equality or legalising same-sex adoption would not be addressed by the global campaign, which would focus on the decriminalisation of homosexuality only.
Homosexual activity is still illegal in around 70 countries around the world, with most places that outlaw homosexuality located in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean regions.
“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” a US official involved in organising the launch told NBC.
Last month, a man who allegedly engaged in gay sex was hanged in Iran.
Grenell, an outspoken Iran critic, wrote in German newspaper Bild to voice out that the incident “should be a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights.”
“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” he wrote.
“Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.
“Politicians, the UN, democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up — and loudly.”
The strategy is still in its early stages and will likely include global organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and countries were homosexuality is already legal, NBC News reported.
US LGBTIQ organisation GLAAD responded to the announcement with skepticism, tweeting, “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.”
The Human Rights Campaign also wrote on Twitter, “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.
“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.”
In late January, the African nation of Angola became the first country to decriminalise homosexuality this year.
Last September, India also decriminalised homosexual activity in a landmark Supreme Court ruling, which struck out a colonial-era law from the country’s Constitution.
Given the country’s population of 1.3 billion people, LGBTIQ advocates hailed the ruling at the time as the biggest decriminalisation verdict in history.