Trump's Initiative to Decriminalize Homosexuality Worldwide Labeled 'Smoke and Mirrors'

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 13, 2020

Richard Grenell
Richard Grenell  (Source:AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Openly gay former diplomat and political adviser Richard Grenell's claim that President Trump helped legalize homosexuality internationally is provably false according to LGBTQ activists, The Daily Beast reports.

Following in the footsteps of the current Log Cabin Republican chair, Robert Kabel — who declared that LGBTQs should support Trump's re-elections because of his alleged "meaningful policy victories" — Grenell, a Trump loyalist, filmed an ad for the organization asserting without any substantial evidence that Trump is "the most pro-gay President in American history." Both Kabel and Grenell seemed to disregard the fact that the Trump administration has regularly rolled back expanded rights and protections for LGBTQ people acquired under President Barack Obama. — which have been reported by Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD.

But that didn't stop Grenell from addressing the Republican National Convention in August with the brash assertion that the current President — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — has led a "historic campaign to decriminalize homosexuality around the globe."

Apparently, this stems from a February 2019 announcement by Grenell that the Trump administration was rolling out an initiative to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide. Over a year and a half later, activists have said the initiative has produced nothing in the way of results. Julie Dorf, a senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality, described the initiative as a "sham" and "nothing more than a series of self-promoting Twitter photos." While Jessica Stern, the executive director of OutRight Action International, said "I'm not aware of any major breakthroughs from Ric Grenell's campaign to decriminalize homosexuality."

Graeme Reid, the director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, called it "smoke and mirrors," reiterating that "the U.S. opposed criminalization long before President Trump took office." Furthermore, "saying people shouldn't be imprisoned for being LGBT is the bare minimum of what the U.S. should be doing, not a bold endeavor."

HRC's press secretary Lucas Acosta similar described the initiative as "window dressing," adding that the disingenuous nature of the initiative is problematically "held up as a major accomplishment by Ric Grenell, with no actual credible victory." Acosta also points to the Trump administration's own "horrible record here at home" in the U.S. as undercutting his credibility as an advocate for LGBTQ people globally. In fact, it appears as if laws against homosexuality are remaining in place. But maybe the Trump administration can claim come influence — and doubtlessly, they will despite whatever evidence to the contrary might exist: A court in Botswana decriminalized homosexuality in June 2019. Regardless, evidence still demonstrates that the few countries that have decriminalized homosexuality did so before the Grenell/Trump administration's announcement for a globalized initiative. In fact, most over half of those countries — Seychelles, Nauru, Belize, Mozambique, Palau, and Lesotho — all did so in 2016 while President Obama was in office.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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