Post submitted by Kerry Brodie, former HRC Global Press Secretary

Today the HRC applauded the appointment of Randy W. Berry, a veteran senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer, as the State Department’s first ever LGBT Human Rights Envoy. HRC praised President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for creating this new senior-level position to oversee the United States government’s efforts to support the human rights of LGBT people around the world.

“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."

Last August, Griffin sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to take this important step for global equality. Griffin also joined a coalition letter led by American Jewish World Services in sending a similar message.  More than 26,000 HRC members who contacted Secretary Kerry’s office urging him to create the position bolstered this effort. This year, HRC worked closely with the offices of Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) to introduce the International Human Rights Defense Act (S.302 / H.R. 590) which would create the position through legislative action.

“This new appointment sends a message that the United States will remain on the forefront of  protecting the human rights of LGBT people around the world," said Griffin.  “Nations that place LGBT people in the cross hairs of danger must know that the United States will not turn a blind eye.”

Berry’s career with the State Department has taken him to postings in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda (twice), and South Africa, as well as Washington DC.  Mr. Berry holds a State Department Superior Honor Award, and is a nine-time Meritorious Honor Award recipient.  

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely, as some countries embrace equality, while in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution and violence.

  • Same-sex conduct is criminalized in 76 countries
  • In 10 countries same-sex conduct is punishable by death
  • So-called anti-LGBT “propaganda” laws inhibit LGBT advocacy in three countries
  • Same-sex marriage licenses are issued nationwide in 20 countries
  • In 2014 there were over 200 documented reports of transgender people murdered in 28 countries. There continues to be countless undocumented cases of violence against transgender people throughout the world.

Filed under: Federal Advocacy

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