Statement by IGLHRC on the Appointment of a Special Envoy on LGBTI Rights by the United States

CONTACT: Suzanne Trimel, 212-430-6018, strimel@iglhrc.org

Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said:

“The appointment of Randy Berry as a special diplomatic envoy brings to a pinnacle the historic trend, first put in motion by the 2011 Presidential Memorandum, of integrating the rights of LGBT people into U.S. foreign policy.  Having long advocated for this step forward, we at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission celebrate its arrival and congratulate Mr. Berry on his new role.

The U.S. envoy can contribute to a new era in which the conscience of governments everywhere can be focused on the destabilizing impact of prejudice and abuse that inflicts suffering on millions worldwide. Human rights should be a priority for every government in both domestic and foreign policy.

Currently, the governments of the world are seized with the development of the forthcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which, in follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, will be a global framework for addressing progress toward human development from 2015 to 2030.  The goal of the Sustainable Development Goals must be to leave no one behind --- not LGBTI people, people who are gender non-conforming, the old, the young -- or anyone. 

Considering that this process will unfold over 2015, we hope that Mr. Berry’s first steps will be to encourage policies and practices that advance economic inclusion without discrimination.

Without access to adequate housing, healthcare, employment and education, many LGBTI people remain uniquely vulnerable and disenfranchised. This is an area where the U.S. government can have positive influence in its dealings with governments and through trade conversations with American companies operating internationally.

The Special Envoy should immediately convene U.S. government agencies and stakeholders such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Trade Representative to examine how American economic and development programs can better serve the needs of LGBTI people worldwide.  Non-discriminatory treatment not only serves to ensure that LGBTI people are treated equally before the law but also makes good business sense to any nation concerned with eliminating poverty through economic development.