As Melania Trump travels across the world for her first tour of Africa, one LGBTQ+ rights advocacy organization is asking that she use her platform to speak up for what’s right.
According to GLAAD, three of four of the nations in which the First Lady is visiting as part of her “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign have laws criminalizing homosexuality. Ghana, where she landed on Tuesday, is a place where same-sex intercourse is punishable by up to three years in prison.
She will also be visiting Kenya and Malawi, where homosexuality can land someone behind bars for up to 14 years. Her last stop is in Egypt, and while the country doesn’t explicitly outlaw same-sex behavior, Egyptian police target LGBTQ people under “debauchery” laws, and over 100 queer and trans individuals have been arrested in the past year.
“The First Lady is visiting four countries that do not share a single non-discrimination, pro-LGBTQ law among them,” GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told INTO. “For all youth to thrive, LGBTQ youth must be included in campaigns around health, wellness, and emotional well-being. This means advocating for LGBTQ youth in places where being LGBTQ is criminalized.”
The only country in which progress seems possible in the near future is Malawi, where President Peter Mutharika expressed some willingness. However, in Kenya and Ghana, the two leaders are still opposed.
Given that Melania Trump is (ironically) on an anti-bullying campaign tour, having real conversations about such a hot-button international issue could be incredibly impactful. But realistically, since the Trump Administration has yet to do anything to help the LGBTQ community, even domestically, this, unfortunately, seems like just a shot in the dark.