The Trump administration is launching a worldwide effort to decriminalize homosexuality. "Some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct," a US official involved in the campaign, which is kicking off Tuesday night with a strategy session in Berlin, tells NBC. It's being led by US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay member of the administration. Other US embassies in Europe are taking part, and officials say the campaign probably will involve working with the United Nations, the European Union, and nations that recognize gay rights.
The campaign is partly a response to the recent reported hanging of a young gay man in Iran and provides a path for criticizing Iran's human rights record. Echoing the administration's stances, Grenell repeatedly has pressed European nations to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and restore sanctions. On his first day as ambassador, he tweeted, "German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately." But he’s found little support in Europe, and Der Spiegel reported last month that Grenell is increasingly isolated. (Mike Pence got an equally chilly reception to his call to abandon the nuclear deal over the weekend from Angela Merkel.)