Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

New U.S. Envoy Advocates For LGBTQ Rights

The world has seen a recent surge bof headlines alluding to the persecution of the global LGBTQ community. Nations across the globe from Europe to Africa have seen a violent backlash against recent movements for equality regardless of sexual orientation. The United States made history in this struggle for human rights by creating the first ever envoy for LGBTQ rights. This position will involve not only monitoring the U.S.’s actions abroad but will also help advocate for rights for the global LGBTQ community.

The position, created last week by the state department and supported by Secretary of State John Kerry, would be a specific diplomatic post within the current framework of the U.S. government that would advocate for LGBTQ rights internationally. The newly appointed envoy, Randy W. Berry, is an openly gay career diplomat with experience in the state department. A lifelong supporter of human rights, Barry has worked closely with LGBTQ communities from Amsterdam to Bangladesh.

Many advocates for human rights applauded the decision. The Human Rights Campaign highlighted the fact that same-sex conduct is criminalized in 76 countries and that in 10 countries same-sex conduct is punishable
by death.

“At a moment when many LGBT people around the world are facing persecution and daily violence, this unprecedented appointment shows a historic commitment to the principle that LGBT rights are human rights,” stated the Human Rights Campaign.

The LGBTQ community responded with praise but also stressed the work that still needs to be done. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission released a statement on the appointment of Randy Berry, commenting on how important this position is while advocating what Barry’s first steps should be as envoy. They stressed the economic and sociological marginalization of LGBTQ people internationally and spoke of the positive change the United States could make as a global leader.

“Without access to adequate housing, healthcare, employment and education, many LGBTQ people remain uniquely vulnerable and disenfranchised,” read a statement from the IGLHRC on the appointment. “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.”

Many Seattle University students have emphasized how important and influential the new envoy position is. For many, the new position represents an important move forward, especially since it came from the federal level.
“I think this is a great thing, I mean it shows how far we’ve come,” said Mika Davison, a sophomore political science major. “And although there’s work to be done, this is a really important thing in how symbolic it is for the United States.”

Nate Wylie, a junior biology major, said that while marriage equality in the Unites States is important, the world must also keep in mind that LGBTQ people all over the world are fighting for rights.

“This is an important shift, and it really pushes us to see LGBTQ rights as something global,” Wylie said.

Wylie mentioned that the new position forces people to move past common conceptions of what victory for equal rights means and how we need to help push for equality and freedom everywhere. Wylie also emphasized that the creation of this position shows a shift that we should pay attention to.

Other students on campus were oblivious to the news of the new envoy.

“I just hadn’t heard about any of this, and that’s kind of sad, said Rachel Cohen, a junior English major. “I keep up with the news and news sites and everything, but this just flew under the radar.”

Cohen mentioned how hard it can be to find news about these issues. For her, many people see all the progress we’ve made here in our own corner of the world and forget how much more we need to do. This is the work that Randy Berry will begin working on. Through him and the global LGBTQ community, the fight for equality presses on.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Bianca Sewake, Author

Comments (0)

All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *