February 19, 2019 at 3:47 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Key LGBT groups not invited to Trump summit on decriminalizing homosexuality
gay news, Washington Blade
U.S. Embassy in Berlin. (Photo public domain)

LGBT groups in the United States working to advance LGBT rights overseas and major LGBT groups in Europe weren’t invited to the international summit in Berlin on the Trump administration’s new global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality, the Washington Blade has learned.

Three LGBT rights groups within the United States — OutRight Action International, the Human Rights Campaign and the Council for Global Equality — confirmed to the Blade they weren’t invited to attend the event reportedly taking place Tuesday evening at the U.S. embassy in Germany.

As far as LGBT groups outside the United States, one LGBT advocate said LSVD, the largest non-governmental LGBT rights organisation in Germany, and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association-Europe weren’t included, although an LGBT rights group from Ukraine had have a presence.

According to NBC News, the Trump administration is planning a global initiative calling on nations to decriminalize homosexuality. The effort seems focused on Iran, which has the death penalty for homosexual acts and has been a geopolitical foe of the United States and the Trump administration.

Leading the initiative is U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration. Grenell has chided German businesses for doing business in Iran in the aftermath of Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

To kick off the initiative, NBC News reported the U.S. embassy in Germany is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner on Tuesday evening.

Jeremy Kadden, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior international policy advocate, said in a statement 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.”

A State Department spokesperson said Grenell hosted 11 activists from different countries in Europe for a meeting that was “an opportunity to listen to and discuss ideas on how the U.S. can advance decriminalization of LGBTI status and conduct around the world.”

“The United States continues to work to protect and defend human rights for all,” the spokesperson said. “Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.”

The Washington Blade has placed a follow-up email in with the State Department seeking identification of the 11 activists in attendance.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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