Trump attacks Clinton over homophobia in the Middle East

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Republican candidate Donald Trump used last night’s third and final presidential debate to once again question Hillary Clinton’s links to the Middle East, this time singling out the abuses carried out against LGBT people.

Trump raised concerns about the Clinton Foundation, the charity run by Clinton and her ex-president husband, which has in the past received money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19:  Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

He said: “It’s a criminal enterprise. Saudi Arabia giving $25 million, Qatar, all of these countries. You talk about women and women’s rights?

“So these are people that push gays off business — off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money.”

“So I’d like to ask you right now, why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money? I think it would be a great gesture.”

Welcome as it is to see Trump highlighting the plight of LGBT people abroad for the first time in the debates, it’s worth pointing out what he’s gotten wrong here. While there have been numerous incidents of gay people being pushed off buildings in the Middle East, it’s not clear that any of these have been perpetrated by the Saudi or Qatari governments.

It’s the terrorist group ISIS that has taken to executing gay men in Iraq and Syria by throwing them off buildings, and it’s very unlikely that ISIS ever donated to the Clinton Foundation.

It’s also worth noting that the donations in question were made before Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009.

Regardless, both Saudi Arabia and Qatar do have laws that harshly criminalise gay sex and relationships.

Earlier this year Saudi authorities arrested four gay men who were living as married couples, while there have been reports that prosecutors in the country are seeking harsher and harsher penalties for convicted LGBT people, blaming social media for a rise in “abnormal behaviour.”

That doesn’t entirely explain the poor man who was arrested for flying a rainbow flag though, who later claimed that he had no idea it was an LGBT pride symbol.

Elsewhere in the presidential debate, Clinton pledged that she would appoint pro-LGBT Supreme Court justices.

She said: “I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy.

“For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community … I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade.”