Donald Trump appeared to be surprised his administration announced a global campaign calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the new initiative that would address the 71 countries, primarily in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean, where homosexuality is illegal.
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who is the most prominent openly gay man in the Trump administration, has been announced to lead the charge to repeal anti-homosexuality laws.
But Trump seemed unaware of the campaign when asked about it on Wednesday during a gaggle with reporters in the Oval Office.
According to The Washington Examiner, a reporter broached the subject about Trump’s “push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world,” asking, “Are you doing that and why?”
“I don’t know which report you’re talking about,” replied Trump. “We have many reports.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who has a long history of anti-LGBTQ positions and policies, confirmed with The Washington Blade that he is aware of, and supports, the new initiative.
The new policy will highlight the dismal human rights record of Iran. The Jerusalem Post recently reported the public execution by hanging of a gay man in the Middle Eastern country.
Earlier this month, Pence specifically called Iran out during a speech in Warsaw, Poland.
“The authoritarian regime in Tehran represses the freedom of speech and assembly, it persecutes religious minorities, brutalizes women, executes gay people, and openly advocates the destruction of the State of Israel,” said Pence.
“The Ayatollah Khamenei himself has said, ‘It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map.’”
Some have speculated that the ‘human rights violations’ focus is an attempt to bring more European countries onboard in Donald Trump’s push to undermine the current regime in Iran.
It’s unclear how the Trump administration will broach the subject with some Middle Eastern countries who are close allies of the U.S.
For instance, Trump has shown much deference to Saudi Arabia, where being gay is punishable by death.