THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Human Rights for
A Q&AWITH SPECIAL ENVOY RANDY BERRY
Protecting the existence
and rights of the LGBT
community has become a
core issue in the U.S. human
rights mission worldwide.
Randy Berry was appointed by the State Department as
the first international envoy for the human rights of LGBT
persons in February 2015. He joined the Foreign Service
in 1993 and has served as consul general in Amsterdam
fromAugust 2012 through March 2015 and in Auckland
from 2009 to 2012, and as deputy chief of mission at Embassy Nepal
from 2007 to 2009. Earlier assignments include Bangladesh, Egypt,
Uganda and South Africa, as well as Washington, D.C. He and his hus-
band, Pravesh Singh, have a 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.
Berry graciously agreed to be interviewed over email by Editor Shawn
Dorman in April while he was in transit, leaving his post in Amsterdam
and heading for Washington via a few days of leave.
What will you do as
the Special Envoy for the Human Rights
of LGBT Persons? What’s the job?
I’m thrilled to have
the opportunity to work hard to protect,
preserve and advance the human rights
of the global lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender community. I think it’s
important to highlight that my new role isn’t “Special Envoy
for LGBT Rights”—it’s “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of
LGBT Persons.” It’s a meaningful distinction, since the con-
cept underscores our very approach to these issues—as a core
human rights issue, not as a special
or boutique issue. In that role, I’ll be
engaging in an exciting new public-
private type of approach.
There are key elements of the job
that are inward facing, and those that
are more outwardly focused. For the
former, I’ll be playing a coordina-
tion role, not only within State, but across federal agencies to
ensure, as much as possible, that our approach to the global
protection of the rights of LGBT persons is uniform, consistent
and focused on tangible results. On the latter, in addition to the
usual diplomacy we do with governments, an essential part of
my job will be to engage robustly with civil society organiza-
tions, foundations and businesses, both in the United States
and overseas, on promoting greater respect for the essential
human rights of these people.
Will you have a home bureau? DRL?
Yes. One of the most important aspects of the role—to
me, and I think to many others who care deeply about the sus-
tainability of our efforts—is that the work of the special envoy
is entirely coordinated with the other vital work of the Bureau
of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. That’s important
because we are not working on an issue of special rights—
ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION