- February 27, 2015
HRC was well represented at today’s reception for Randy Berry, the newly-announced Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons. Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, opened the historic proceedings in the State Department’s imposing eighth floor diplomatic reception room. He was followed by Secretary of State John Kerry, who acknowledged the hard work that it took to get the position created and filled, and thanked the more than 150 guests -- including members of congress, government officials, LGBT activists and groups and civil society activists -- for their efforts.
As Secretary Kerry said, echoing President Obama’s words in his State of the Union address, “We have a moral obligation to speak out against the persecution and the marginalization of LGBT persons. And we have a moral obligation to promote societies that are more just, fair, and tolerant. It is the right thing to do. But make no mistake: It’s also a strategic necessity. Greater protection of human rights leads to greater stability, prosperity, tolerance, inclusivity, and it is not a question of occasionally – always this is what happens.”
Noting the importance of the occasion, Kerry reiterated the U.S. commitment to advancing LGBT rights. “The stakes could not be higher,” he said. “In country after country, LGBT communities face discriminatory laws and practices that attack their dignity, undermine their safety, and violate their human rights. And many LGBT people continue to be harassed, arrested, killed simply because of who they are or who they love. That’s unacceptable. And we believe it has to change.”
His husband, their two young sons, and his sisters accompanied Berry, a longtime diplomat who most recently served as Consul General in Amsterdam. He was grateful for the reception he received, and expressed optimism about the task ahead. He concluded his remarks, “Though government bears special responsibility in pursuing change and greater protections for the human rights of the LGBT community, it is not, cannot be, nor has it ever been alone in doing so. It will take the entirety of our efforts to see progress and I look forward with enthusiasm, with hope, with optimism, and with commitment to working with you to build a more positive future for the young LGBT person out there who sees no hope, who sees no opportunity, who sees no safe space. My children deserve a better world than that, as do all children, regardless of where they live, who they are, or who they love.”