United States: Appointment of Special Envoy shows important leadership on LGBT rights


The United States has shown welcome global leadership through the appointment of its first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, ISHR said today, emphasising the importance of the Special Envoy working in close partnership with local level LGBT rights defenders.

(Geneva) - The United States has shown welcome global leadership through the appointment of its first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that Randy Berry has been appointed to the new post - which has long been advocated by organisations such as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights First, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Jewish World Service - to promote and protect LGBT rights, and combat homophobic violence and discrimination, worldwide.

Announcing the appointment, Secretary of State Kerry said, 'Too often in too many countries, LGBT persons are threatened, jailed, and prosecuted because of who they are or who they love. Too many governments have proposed or enacted laws that aim to curb freedom of expression, association, religion, and peaceful protest ... It's time to assert the equality and dignity of all persons, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.'

Welcoming the announcement, Pooja Patel, Manager of ISHR's LGBT Human Rights Defender Program, said, 'In many States around the world, human rights defenders working to promote and protect LGBT rights do so at significant personal risk and in a restrictive legal environment. The appointment of this Special Envoy is a positive development and a welcome counterpoint to the adoption of laws in States such as Russia and Kyrgyzstan which not only criminalise homosexuality but also criminalise organisations and individuals who advocate in relation to LGBT rights'.

'The appointment of this Special Envoy, together with the recent adoption of resolutions condemning homophobic violence and discrimination by both the UN Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, mark important and positive steps on the road towards LGBT equality,' Ms Patel said.

While welcoming US leadership on LGBT rights globally, Ms Patel also paid tribute to LGBT human rights defenders working at the national level, often in hostile environments, and emphasised that they must be crucial partners in US and global advocacy for change.

'Close consultation and strong partnerships with local civil society actors are vital if this global Special Envoy is to play a positive role at the local level,' Ms Patel said.

'It is also vital that this Special Envoy be mandated to pursue a principled and consistent approach to promoting and protecting LGBT rights in every country, unconstrained by the perecived economic or political interests that the US may have in the State concerned. Whether in Brunei or India, Kyrgyzstan or Nigeria, the guiding principle for this Special Envoy must be the universal rights and equal dignity of all persons,' Ms Patel said.

Contact: Pooja Patel, ISHR, on p.patel@ishr.ch


  • North America
  • LGBT rights
  • National HRDs laws/policies
  • Brunei
  • India
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Nigeria
  • Russia
  • United States