On Friday, ahead of remarks at the White House for Pride Month, President Joe Biden announced he will appoint Jessica Stern, the executive director of the global LGBTQ advocacy organization OutRight Action International, as the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the U.S. State Department.
The special envoy plays an important role in leading the implementation of a presidential memorandum, issued by Biden in February, directing executive departments and agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ people around the world.
That memorandum, in part, directs agencies to strengthen any existing efforts to push foreign governments to rescind any laws that criminalize LGBTQ people, or overlook violence or discrimination against LGBTQ people at the hands of both state and non-state actors; to protect vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers; to take a country’s record of human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ people, into account when making decisions regarding foreign aid; and respond swiftly and meaningfully to incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals abroad.
“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” the memorandum reads. “Around the globe, including here at home, brave LGBTQI+ activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights. … It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.”
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