President Trump reacted with surprise when asked Wednesday about reports that his administration was making a global push to decriminalize homosexuality.
In an Oval Office exchange with reporters, Trump was asked about the plan, which was first reported by NBC News on Tuesday.
“Mr. President, on your push to decriminalize homosexuality, are you going to do that? And why?”
“Say it?” Trump responded.
“Your push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world,” the reporter clarified.
“I don’t know which report you’re talking about,” Trump said. “We have many reports.”
In an interview with NBC News, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking gay official in the Trump administration, said the U.S. would begin pressuring 71 countries where homosexuality remains a crime to overturn their laws. The effort comes after Iran executed a man this summer over his sexual orientation.
“It’s unbelievable … that in today’s world a 32-year-old man in Iran can be hanged simply for being gay,” Grenell said.
Asked whether Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump himself supported the aim of global decriminalization of homosexuality, Grenell offered only a mild reassurance.
“I am happy to talk to them. I know that decriminalizing homosexuality is something that people absolutely agree is a policy that we have to move forward on.”
In a tweet posted Tuesday, the president’s eldest son championed the policy.
Trump’s overall record on LGBT rights is far from stellar. The president reinstated a ban on transgender soldiers from serving in the U.S. armed forces and he has scaled back or rescinded protections for transgender workers. The administration has also argued in court on behalf of a bakery asserting its First Amendment rights to discriminate against gay couples.
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