Trump has said he ‘doesn’t know’ about plans to push for gay rights around the world.
It was announced earlier this week that the Trump administration will be launching a new campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in the the dozens of countries where it’s still illegal to be gay.
But during a press event at the Oval Office on Wednesday, the US president appeared to suggest that he didn’t even know that the plans existed, reacting with surprise when questioned about the matter.
“Mr President, on your push to decriminalise homosexuality, are you doing that? And why?” asked a journalist.
“Say it [again]?” he replied.
“Your push to decriminalise homosexuality around the world,” the journalist repeated.
“I don’t know which reports you’re talking about. We have many reports,” he answered, looking confused.
Q: Mr. President, on your push to decriminalize homosexuality, are you doing that? And why?
TRUMP: Say it?
Q: Your push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world.
TRUMP: I don't know which report you're talking about. We have many reports.
Via Yahoo News pic.twitter.com/AQH4i66u9s
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 20, 2019
The initiative, which is spearheaded by openly gay US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, is expected to bring together LGBTQ activists from across Europe in an attempt to come up with a plan of action.
“This is a bipartisan push. People understand – religious people, individuals who may not always be in the LGBTI fight – they understand that criminalising homosexuality is absolutely wrong,” Grenell told NBC News.
“It is unbelievable to believe that in today’s world a 32-year-old man in Iran can be hanged simply for being gay. That’s unacceptable.”
Asked whether Trump and Vice President Mike Pence supported the plans, he replied: “Decriminalising homosexuality is something that people absolutely agree is a policy that we have to move forward on.”
While the campaign appeared to suggest that things may be progressing for LGBTQ rights under the current administration, it’s important to remember that Trump’s treatment of the community until now has been abysmal.
In 2017, Trump announced on Twitter that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve “in any capacity” in the US military, which he later argued was an attempt to “protect the country”.
He failed to mention the LGBTQ community in his World AIDS Day proclamation, and six members of the government’s HIV/AIDS advisory council resigned after stating he “simply does not care” about fighting the health epidemic.
Meanwhile, it was recently reported that anti-gay hate crimes in Washington, DC have tripled since Trump became president. In the same timeframe, anti-trans attacks have nearly doubled.
Many activists argue that the hostile political environment has contributed to rises in hate crime across the country.
Monica Palacio, the director of the DC Office for Human Rights, said: “I do think that the president of the United States has been very actively tearing down protections for the LGBTQ community, whether it’s in the military or whether it’s in employment.
“I personally, in my work, I know that over the last 25 years when you have a national role model spewing homophobia a lot is going to happen in the way people treat one another.
“And it’s going to tear down that kind of common decency and sense of respect for people’s life choice.”