This week marks one year since Randy Berry started as the U.S. State Department’s first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.
As Special Envoy, Berry is tasked with leading the State Department's efforts to protect the human rights of LGBTI people around the world and he has brought a tremendous amount of energy to the position. He has traveled to over 40 countries during the past year and has held hundreds of meetings with international organizations, national government leaders, local governments, law enforcement, civil society, media, business and the general public. His message is simple: LGBT people deserve the same dignity and respect that all people do. While every country may have their own particular views on LGBT issues, there is simply no excuse for violence or persecution of people based on who they are or whom they love.
At the same time, Berry takes a very modest approach to the U.S. role in combating anti-LGBT discrimination and persecution. “We want to be a part of the global movement promoting human rights – not leading it but supporting it,” Berry said.
"Randy's appointment last year was a game changer for LGBT rights internationally," said HRC Senior Vice President Mary Beth Maxwell. "It is so powerful to have a senior leader bringing such drive and focus and a human face to the U.S. government's efforts to protect LGBT people abroad. In conversations with governments, citizens, and advocates, he has opened doors to better understanding and communication of LGBT people and their unique set of concerns. The global equality movement is stronger because we have Special Envoy Randy Berry."
LGBT communities abroad have welcomed Berry and it is clear that he has had an impact in helping world leaders better understand LGBT human rights and how they can play a role in the global equality movement.
Berry has also overseen the expansion of the Global Equality Fund (GEF), which is a collaborative effort led by the State Department to support and fund programs to advance LGBTI human rights around the world. The GEF has provided more than $24 million in funding to LGBT groups in more than 50 countries.
This extraordinary first year has established the Envoy position as an essential part of the U.S. government's efforts to protect and promote the dignity of all people. It is crucial that it be continued in the next Administration and HRC will work to ensure that his position is firmly established for many years to come, just as HRC advocated for the creation of the position to begin with.
HRC congratulates Randy Berry and the entire State Department LGBTI office on this milestone and their great achievements.
To learn more about HRC’s work around the globe, click here.