The US State Department Monday (23 February) named Randy Berry as its first LGBTI rights envoy.
The openly gay diplomat is currently the US consul general in Amsterdam and has served in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda, and South Africa.
Secretary of State John Kerry said he ‘could not be more proud’ to announce Berry as the first-ever special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons.
‘Randy’s a leader, he’s a motivator. But most importantly for this effort, he’s got vision,’ he said.
‘He’s a voice of clarity and conviction on human rights. And I’m confident that Randy’s leadership as our new special envoy will significantly advance efforts underway to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.’
Berry holds a State Department Superior Honor Award and is a nine-time Meritorious Honor Award recipient.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) applauded the appointment and praised President Barack Obama and Kerry for creating the new senior-level position.
‘At a moment when many LGBT people around the world are facing persecution and daily violence, this unprecedented appointment shows a historic commitment to the principle that LGBT rights are human rights,’ said HRC President Chad Griffin.
‘President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown tremendous leadership in championing the rights of LGBT people abroad. Now, working closely with this new envoy, we’ve got to work harder than ever to create new allies, push back on human rights violators, and support the brave leaders and organizations that fight for LGBT rights around the world.’
Gay sex is criminalized in 76 countries and is punishable by death in 10. Anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws inhibit LGBTI advocacy in three countries.