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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 07
LGBT envoy will stay on, State Department says
Section One
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LGBT envoy will stay on, State Department says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Randy Berry, the State Department's Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons will 'continue in his role in the current administration,' a department spokesperson says.

The post was created in April 2015 as one of a number of LGBT rights initiatives undertaken by the Obama administration. Berry is the first - and so far the only - LGBT special envoy.

Openly Gay, Berry used his position as special envoy to push for LGBT rights in South America. He also insisted that police resources in countries like Uganda should be directed toward combatting terrorism rather than harassing LGBT individuals.

The State Department spokesperson did not elaborate on the Trump administration's reasons for keeping Berry on. Other Obama-era posts like the Special Envoy for Climate Change were vacated and are likely to stand empty for the foreseeable future.

LGBT activists reacted cautiously to the news.

'This is really surprising to me,' Ross Murray, the director of programs at GLAAD, a pro-LGBT group, told Foreign Policy magazine. 'I don't think I can applaud it until I see what his mandate becomes in this administration.'

'But Berry has been really effective in that job,' he added.

Berry joined the US Foreign Service - the career diplomatic corps - in 1993. He served as a diplomat in Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, South Africa, and Uganda, becoming Deputy Chief of Mission in Nepal from 2007 to 2009.

Berry was consul general in Auckland, New Zealand, from 2009 to 2012, and consul general in Amsterdam from 2012 to 2015.

Many Trump allies - the Family Research Council (FRC), for example - have urged him to reverse Obama's pro-LGBT policies. FRC also worried that incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is 'pro-gay.' It did not comment on the news that Berry will keep his job in the State Department.

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