The State Department on Monday announced it has named Randy Berry as its special envoy to promote global LGBT rights.
Berry, who is openly gay, has been the consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam since August 2012.
He was the consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand, from 2009-2012 and the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal from 2007-2009. Berry during his State Department career has also been posted in D.C., Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda and South Africa.
“Randy’s a leader,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement to the Washington Blade. “He’s a motivator. But most importantly for this effort, he’s got vision. Wherever he’s served — from Nepal to New Zealand, from Uganda to Bangladesh, from Egypt to South Africa, and most recently as consul general in Amsterdam — Randy has excelled. 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.”
A State Department official told the Blade earlier this month the envoy would be an “openly gay Foreign Service officer.”
“It’s been long in the making because the secretary insisted the envoy be a career Foreign Service officer from inside the institution, someone who is part of the fabric of the institution, a diplomat by training,” said the official.
Kerry in his statement to the Blade highlighted the State Department’s Global Equality Fund that seeks to promote LGBT rights around the world. He also noted homosexuality remains criminalized in more than 70 countries.
“At the same time, and often with our help, governments and other institutions, including those representing all religions, are taking steps to reaffirm the universal human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Kerry. “So while this fight is not yet won, this is no time to get discouraged. It’s time to stay active. It’s time to assert the equality and dignity of all persons, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. And with Randy helping to lead our efforts, I am confident that’s exactly what we can and will do.”
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) last year introduced a bill — the International Human Rights Defense Act — that would have created an LGBT envoy within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Markey and California Congressman Alan Lowenthal reintroduced the proposal last month.