A rainbow colored flag, seen through an American flag, flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo)

#IDAHOT: Reinforcing the Ideal that Everyone Deserves to Live with Justice, Equality, and Dignity

By: Randy Berry, U.S. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, U.S. Department of State

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), which is a chance to mark the progress we have made to promote the ideal that everyone can live free from fear and discrimination.

In just over a year since becoming the first-ever U.S. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Persons, I have traveled to 42 different countries from every region of the world. During each visit, I have had thought-provoking meetings with members of civil society who courageously work every day to improve human rights where stigma and violence threaten the LGBTI community in some of the most repressive environments.

I have also had some challenging conversations with foreign government officials on discriminatory legislation targeting the LGBTI community.

I have stressed continually that discriminatory laws, along with continued harassment and violence against the LGBTI community, are not only violations of fundamental rights, but are also detrimental to overall economic prosperity and growth.

As we continue to deepen our relationships with governments, civil society organizations, and business and faith communities, we will focus on three priority areas in the coming year:

  • In all of our international engagements, we will emphasize that ongoing violence targeting LGBTI persons is unacceptable.
  • We will work closely with businesses to build consensus on the importance of non-discrimination in the labor force, with an understanding that businesses have a key role to play to ensure societal and cultural change.
  • We will also work to strengthen our commitment to developing multilateral coalitions in support of the human rights of LGBTI people.
Above all we will continue to prioritize LGBTI issues as a key policy priority of the State Department. We do so recognizing that the United States is one player among many in this global fight for change.

As we commemorate IDAHOT, we remember that no matter who you are or who you love, all people deserve to live with justice, equality, and dignity.

Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State’s Official blog.

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