The U.S. Department of State is currently vetting candidates to become a special envoy to advocate for the rights of LGBT people overseas, a State Department official told the Boston Globe today (Thursday, Feb. 5). The official told the newspaper the person appointed to the position will be chosen from among openly LGBT current State Department officers, and the department will announce its choice by the end of February.
The new position will be an extension of the State Department’s recent initiatives to enhance and discuss LGBT rights in the U.S. and abroad.
Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, called the new position “a welcome development and historic moment the U.S. government’s progress in promoting the dignity and equality of LGBT people around the world.”
Stern continued, “The creation of the special envoy position is a significant advance in the increasing institutionalization of LGBT rights in U.S. foreign policy. With opponents in both houses of Congress and in countries around the world, the potential of this position to heighten credibility and increase resources for LGBT issues in international development and cooperation comes just in time. We hope that the special envoy will act with strategy, with sensitivity and with meaningful input from grassroots LGBTI communities. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has long supported creation of this position, and we look forward to engaging with the State Department’s chosen nominee to make a difference in the lives of individuals by affirming their basic human rights.”