Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that Randy Berry will serve as the first special envoy for LGBT rights around the world. His official title is Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons. Berry currently serves as the consul general to the Netherlands.
Berry will work to implement the Obama Administration’s policy of supporting LGBT rights around the country. LGBT rights range around the world. Some places have outlawed same-sex activity while there are also countries that have legalized same-sex marriage. The State Department said that more 75 countries have outlawed same-sex activities. Berry will also use diplomacy and work through the private sector in order to further the cause of the LGBT community.
During today’s press briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked whether or not countries would be receptive to an envoy coming over and telling them to change their laws to be more LGBT-friendly. Psaki responded saying, “I’m sure some will be more receptive than others in the world, but part of his role is going to be coordinating and shepherding the implementation of the Department’s strategy on human rights for LGBT persons, adopted in 2011, and the presidential memorandum issued later that year with like-minded countries and working to continue to highlight these issues globally.”
The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that works for LGBT rights, praised Berry’s appointment. HRC President Chad Grifffin said, “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.”