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Randy Berry: LGBT envoy ‘an innovation’

Randy Berry, the special U.S. envoy to promote global LGBT rights, speaks at the State Department on Feb. 27, 2015, after Secretary of State John Kerry formally introduced him. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The new special U.S. envoy to promote global LGBT rights on Thursday described his position within the State Department as “an innovation.”

“My position at the State Department with the U.S. government is an innovation,” said Randy Berry as he spoke at Cobalt in Northwest D.C. during an awards ceremony for Center Global, a program of the D.C. Center for the LGBT community that offers assistance to asylum seekers in the Washington metropolitan area. “It is simply the newest tool, the newest strategy that we have to build upon the work that has already been carried out by very, very talented individuals within the Department of State, within USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development) and other portions of the government.”

Berry spoke at the Center Global event four days after he formally assumed his new post. He also presented awards to Nikilas Mawanda, a Ugandan LGBT rights advocate who received asylum in the U.S. last October, and Vanessa Allyn, a D.C. lawyer who represents LGBT asylum seekers.

“Activists like Nikilas and advocates like Vanessa make our work possible,” said Berry.

Berry is a gay career diplomat who has been posted in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda, South Africa, Nepal and New Zealand.

He was the consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam when Secretary of State John Kerry announced his appointment as the country’s first special LGBT envoy in February.