Randy W. Berry

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Randy Berry
Randy W. Berry official photo.jpg
United States Ambassador to Nepal
Assumed office
October 25, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byAlaina Teplitz
United States Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons
In office
April 13, 2015 – November, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byVacant
Personal details
Born1965 (age 53–54)
Spouse(s)Pravesh Singh
Children2
Alma materBethany College, Kansas

Randy William Berry[1] (born 1965) is an American diplomat. He served as the first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons in the United States Department of State, as well as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He was nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Nepal by President Donald Trump in May 2018 and confirmed by the Senate on September 6, 2018.[2] Berry presented his credentials to Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari on October 25, 2018.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Randy W. Berry was born in 1965[4][5] and grew up on his family cattle ranch in Custer County, Colorado.[6][7]

Berry graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, receiving a Rotary Scholarship to attend the University of Adelaide in Australia. Besides English, he speaks Spanish and Arabic.[6]

Career[edit]

Berry worked for America West Airlines in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was employed as an international training manager.[6] He joined the United States Foreign Service in 1993,[7] serving as a diplomat in Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, South Africa, and Uganda.[6] He was Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 2007 to 2009[7] and then served as United States Consul General in Auckland, New Zealand, from 2009 to 2012. He was Consul General in Amsterdam from 2012 to 2015.[6][7]

Berry has served as the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons since April 13, 2015.[5][7] This position was created after Democratic Congressman Alan Lowenthal of California and Democratic Senator Edward Markey called for it; it was announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in February 2015.[5] Two months later, Berry was appointed to that office.[5] Some analysts suggested Berry should have been appointed to the higher rank of ambassador.[5] At the start of his term, Berry idenfitied his broad goal as "in essence, to strengthen partnerships with countries that are like-minded on the issue, try to make progress in countries that are seemingly on the fence about gay rights, and do what's feasible in countries where there's overt hostility."[8]

In his first year as Special Envoy, Berry traveled to 42 countries in an effort to ensure that LGBTI persons everywhere are afforded equal rights under the law. He has also identified combatting violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons as a key priority for his tenure.[9] He began his term as Special Envoy by focusing on supporting LGBTI rights in South America.[5] He also argued that police resources in repressive homophobic societies like Uganda, infamous for its Kill the Gays bill, should be redirected towards combatting terrorism, not harassing their LGBTI citizens.[5]

Berry's 2015 meeting with Vatican officials from the Holy See's Secretary of State office garnered significant media attention given that the Catholic Church's holds the position that gay and lesbian sexual behavior a sin and restricts marriage to unions of one man and one woman. Berry addressed questions about his engagement at the Vatican by clarifying that "We were not there to talk about issues of civil unions or same-sex marriage, for example, because that is not part of our policy." Instead, Berry said he hoped his meeting with Church officials would highlight "issues of violence and extreme discrimination are of concern to us all."[10]

At the conclusion of his first year in office, on April 20, 2016, Berry briefed reporters at the State Department's daily press briefing to outline his priorities for the second year of his term. During that briefing, he said that one of his major priorities for the coming year would be to combat anti-LBGTI violence around the world and that the State Department "will work" with other branches of the U.S. Government, including the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as "other agencies to leverage opportunities to reduce and prevent violence, share best practices and challenges and provide technical resources where we can."[11]

The Obama administration, on January 20, 2017, also named Berry Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.[12] On February 13, the State Department announced that Berry would continue in that position as well as that of Special Envoy in the Trump administration.[12] Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, called the appointment "a disappointing development" and said that "Keeping Berry only signals to the world that the extreme agenda of the Obama years is still deeply entrenched in the State Department".[13] The conservative Family Research Council had made removing such "activists" a priority and as recently as December called on the State Department to rid itself of employees who promote an "anti-family, anti-life agenda." [14] A spokesperson for the Trump transition team responded to media outlets saying that any suggestion "that discrimination of any kind will be condoned or tolerated in a Trump administration is simply absurd."[15]

Berry vacated the Special Envoy role in November 2017.[16] As of July 2018, the role is currently vacant[17] and no recruitment appears to have been taken place for a successor.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Berry is married to Pravesh Singh, and together they have a son and a daughter.[5] They reside in Washington, D.C..[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PN1908 — Foreign Service". U.S. Congress. December 7, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "PN1942 — Randy W. Berry — Department of State". U.S. Congress. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  3. ^ "Ambassador Randy Berry". U.S. Embassy in Nepal. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Prominent American LGBT People". Virtual Embassy of the United States: Tehran, Iran. United States Department of State. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Dorell, Oren (April 26, 2015). "Exclusive: First diplomat for LGBT rights speaks out". USA Today. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e LoGiurato, Brett (February 24, 2015). "5 things you need to know about Randy Berry, the U.S.' first international envoy for LGBT rights". Fusion. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Randy W. Berry: Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons". United States Department of State. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "America's new LGBT envoy". POLITICO. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  9. ^ Londoño, Ernesto (May 26, 2016). "America's Global Campaign for Gay Rights". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  10. ^ "Exclusive: Vatican Meets with U.S. State Department's Gay and Lesbian Envoy". Time. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  11. ^ "Randy Berry marks first year as LGBT envoy". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. April 25, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Trump Keeps Obama's Top Gay Rights Envoy at State Department". Foreign Policy. February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  13. ^ Markoe, Lauren (February 15, 2017). "Trump retains LGBT State Department official, frustrating Christian conservatives". National Catholic Reporter. Religion News Service. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  14. ^ "Trump retains LGBT State Department official, frustrating Christian conservatives". Religion News Service. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "Future of U.S. LGBT envoy remains unclear". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. January 24, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  16. ^ "Randy Berry is no longer US LGBTI envoy". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. November 30, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons: Vacant". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  18. ^ "Trump administration leaves LGBTI envoy role sitting empty - despite claiming they would keep it". PinkNews. Retrieved July 10, 2018.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
New office United States Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons
2015–2017
Vacant
Preceded by
Alaina Teplitz
United States Ambassador to Nepal
2018–present
Incumbent