May 10, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Lebanese Shi’ite leader may urge decriminalization of homosexuality

Acting US director of national intelligence Richard Grenell says he spoke "with an influential Lebanese Shi'ite leader" who is "close" to coming out publicly in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality
May 10, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Lebanese Shi’ite leader may urge decriminalization of homosexuality

Acting US director of national intelligence Richard Grenell says he spoke "with an influential Lebanese Shi'ite leader" who is "close" to coming out publicly in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality

The acting US director of national intelligence Richard Grenell said on Saturday that a leading Lebanese Shi’ite leader may call for the end of criminal penalties for same-sex relations in Lebanon.

“Yesterday I spoke with an influential Lebanese Shi’ite leader who is close to coming out publicly in support of Lebanon decriminalizing homosexuality. Anyone with influence in Lebanon should help make the case soon,” Grenell tweeted.

Lebanon’s penal code outlaws “all sexual relations contrary to the laws of nature” and has been applied to detain and prosecute gay men and transsexual women.

After Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended his regime’s law to execute gays and lesbians last year, Grenell told The Jerusalem Post at the time: “The UN’s Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that these answers from the Iranian regime are violating basic UN principles. UN members should agree with the declaration in order to be members. Criminalizing homosexuality violates the declaration, plain and simple.”

According to a 2008 British diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, the Islamic Republic of Iran has executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians.

Grenell launched an international campaign last year to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe. He is believed to be the first openly gay cabinet member in US history.

Grenell also serves as the US ambassador to Germany.

The Post reported in April that Grenell may curb intelligence sharing with Middle East countries that continue to criminalize same-sex relations.

“We can’t just simply make the moral argument and expect others to respond in kind because telling others that it’s the right thing to do doesn’t always work,” he said, according to a New York Times report, adding that “to fight for decriminalization is to fight for basic human rights.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal

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Issues:

Iran Iran Human Rights Lebanon