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20

JUNE 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Human Rights for

LGBT Persons:

Aiming for

Sustainable

Progress

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.

Shawn Dorman:

What will you do as

the Special Envoy for the Human Rights

of LGBT Persons? What’s the job?

Randy Berry:

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.

SD:

Will you have a home bureau? DRL?

RB:

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—

FOCUS

ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION