Asked about his own administration’s widely reported effort to launch a worldwide campaign to end the decriminalization of homosexuality in dozens of countries where its still against the law, President Trump appeared to be unaware of the initiative when asked about it by a reporter on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported that U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, an openly gay man in the Trump administration, is expected to lead the Trump administration’s initiative to pressure the 71 countries that still penalize homosexual activity to change their laws, including those that subject gay people to the death penalty or imprisonment.
However, when Trump was asked about the efforts by a reporter on Wednesday in the Oval Office, he appeared to have no knowledge of the decriminalization campaign, reports Newsweek.
“Mr. President, on your push to decriminalize homosexuality, are you doing that? And why?” the reporter asked Trump.
“Say it?” the president responded.
“Your push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world,” the reporter said.
“I don’t know which report you’re talking about. We have many reports,” Trump answered. “Anybody else?”
Grenell suggested on Wednesday that he has yet to discuss his new campaign 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.”
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.”
“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,” GLAAD, an American non-governmental media monitoring organization, tweeted.