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US spy chief to pressure countries with anti-LGBT policies: report

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Washington (AFP)

The US acting director of national intelligence is weighing ways to pressure countries with anti-LGBT policies, including reducing intelligence sharing, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Richard Grenell, who temporarily leads the US spy community, told the Times in an interview that the agencies under his charge should take part in pushing countries to remove laws and policies that criminalize homosexuality.

If implemented, that could put Washington at odds with close diplomatic partners with strict anti-gay laws, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

Grenell, the former US ambassador to Germany and openly gay himself, said he is conducting a review of possible options for action, which could include limiting intelligence sharing, according to the Times.

Aid could also be leveraged to push countries to be more open to the LGBT community.

"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 told the newspaper in an interview.

"If a country that we worked in as the United States intelligence community was arresting women because of their gender, we would absolutely do something about it," he said.

"Ultimately, the United States is safer when our partners respect basic human rights."

While the administration of President Donald Trump has de-emphasized human rights in diplomacy compared to his predecessors, Grenell said the president has given him "total support."

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