On Tuesday, Out, a magazine devoted to LGBT issues, ran an op-ed slamming President Trump’s effort to decriminalize homosexual behavior across the globe, snapping that it is cover for a “colonialist” attitude toward Iran. The author actually defended Iran from charges that its theocratic regime has a brutal record against homosexuals, quoting the leftist Guardian, which stated that in the last five years, the government has relaxed its anti-gay laws.
The author of the op-ed, Mathew Rodriguez, wrote that Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany who is gay and a staunch opponent of Iran, is “trying to reach an economic goal by painting the administration’s opponent as anti-gay.”
Rodriguez conveniently ignored the fact that according to the state-controlled Iranian Students’ News Agency, the Iranian government publicly hanged a 31-year-old Iranian man on January 10, finding him guilty of violating Iran’s anti-gay laws. As The Jerusalem Post noted, “Iran’s radical sharia law system prescribes the death penalty for gay sex.”
In February, Grenell told the German newspaper Bild that the hanging was “a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights,” adding, “This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time. Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death … politicians, the U.N., democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up — and loudly.”
Rodriguez claimed the Trump administration’s campaign to eradicate criminalization of homosexuality “looks more like another instance of the right using queer people as a pawn to amass power and enact its own agenda,” adding that the Trump administration does not have a great human rights record at home when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues.”
Rodriguez attempted to buttress his case by quoting Josh Lederman, who reported the original NBC News story about the campaign, telling Out magazine, “We know Trump is very focused on Iran and is looking for ways to demonize it in the public opinion and this is one area where you know the U.S. and European countries see eye to eye on Iran. So it makes for them to focus strategically on that rather than sanctions, where there’s been a big gulf between the U.S. and its allies.”
Rodriguez then segued to his argument that the campaign is a colonialist one, that “Grennell’s attack might be a case of white men trying to save brown gay men from brown straight men.”
Rodriquez decried the fact that the effort will reportedly be “mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean,” writing, “That sentence alone should set off several alarm bells. First of all, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean are huge geopolitical entities. Attitudes toward gay people differ greatly among countries and regions within those entities and attempting to gather a room of European activists on how to deal with queer issues in those regions is the definition of paternalism.”