On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of the first-ever special envoy for LGBT rights at the State Department. Randy Berry, an openly gay career diplomat currently serving as the consul general in the Netherlands, was tapped for the job.
“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” Kerry said in a statement. In his new role—officially the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons—Berry “is charged with advancing government initiatives to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world, including in the more than 75 countries where consensual same-sex relationships are criminalized,” Reuters reports. “[Berry] also will be able to utilize the State Department’s Global Equality Fund, created in 2011 to provide critical emergency, short-term, and long-term assistance to protect and advance the human rights of LGBT communities in over 50 countries.”
“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 Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.