At a press conference with the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Tehran on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif deefended his country’s policy of executing gay people, Deutsche Welle reports.
Sarif was asked, “Why are homosexuals executed in Iran because of their sexual orientation?”
He replied: “Our society has moral principles. And we live according to these principles. These are moral principles concerning the behavior of people in general. And that means that the law is respected and the law is obeyed.”
Germany’s foreign ministry and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell denounced Sarif’s remarks.
Said Grenell: “The Iranian regime has violated basic principles of the United Nations. UN members should honor (the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights) if they want to be members at all. The criminalization of homosexuality plainly violates this declaration.”
In February, the Trump administration, led by Grenell, launched a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality globally seen as a bid to put pressure on Iran.
NBC News reported at the time: ‘Narrowly focused on criminalization, rather than broader LGBT issues like same-sex marriage, the campaign was conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration’s top geopolitical foe. Grenell, as Trump’s envoy to Germany, has been an outspoken Iran critic and has aggressively pressed European nations to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions. But while the Trump administration has had some success in pressuring Iran through stepped-up U.S. penalties, efforts to bring the Europeans along have thus far largely fallen flat. Reframing the conversation on Iran around a human rights issue that enjoys broad support in Europe could help the United States and Europe reach a point of agreement on Iran.’