January 12, 2018 at 12:23 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Career U.S. diplomat who promoted Latin America LGBT rights resigns

John Feeley, gay news, Washington Blade

News of U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley‘s resignation broke after President Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “shithole countries.” (Photo courtesy of the State Department)

A career diplomat who promoted LGBT rights in Latin America has resigned as the U.S. ambassador to Panama.

Reuters on Friday reported that John Feeley told the State Department, White House and the Panamanian government that he can no longer serve under President Trump

“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies,” said Feeley in his resignation letter, according to Reuters.

The State Department confirmed to Reuters that Feeley has “retired for personal reasons,” noting he will leave his post on March 9. He has been the U.S. ambassador to Panama since 2015.

Feeley is a former U.S. Marine who joined the foreign service in 1990.

News of his resignation broke less than a day after Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “shithole countries” during a White House meeting on immigration.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama on Thursday in a press release said Feeley informed Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Panamanian Vice President Isabel Saint Malo of his decision to “retire” from the U.S. foreign service for “personal reasons.” Reuters reported that Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein told reporters he knew about Feeley’s resignation before Trump made his comment.

Feeley was the principal deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs in 2014 when he spoke with the Washington Blade about the LGBT rights movement in Latin America.

He described LGBT rights as “part of the panoply” of human rights. Feeley told the Blade this position is “both my personal, but also a very strong policy statement from” the Obama administration that “LGBT rights are human rights.”

Feeley during the interview also applauded then-U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake.

Iván Chanis Barahona, a gay Panamanian lawyer who once lived in D.C., is among those who are working to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Panama.

Chanis told the Blade on Friday that Feeley was “very personally involved in promoting human and LGBTI rights” in the Central American country.

“The LGBTI community will mourn his absence,” said Chanis.

The Blade has reached out to Feeley for comment.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

Comments are closed
© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2018. All rights reserved.
Blade Blast

Get the latest LGBTQ news to your inbox every Thursday!