Jessica Stern appointed as US Special Envoy for LGBTQI+ rights

Jessica Stern

Jessica Stern, the Executive Director of rights advocacy group OutRight Action International will be stepping down from her role to take up the position of US Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons in the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden announced the appointment on Friday, noting that the position existed under the previous Obama administration, but was not filled during President Donald Trump’s 8 years in the White House.

Stern is the second person to fill the position, the role was previously held from 2015- 2017 by Randy Berry, who is now the US Ambassador to Nepal.

“The Special Envoy will play a vital role in leading implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World,” the White House said in a statement. “At a time when the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons are increasingly threatened in all regions of the world, the Special Envoy will bring together like-minded governments, civil society organizations, corporations and international organizations to uphold dignity and equality for all.”

While announcing the appointment President Biden commented on the slew of anti-LGBTIQ+ legislation that has been introduced at a state level across the United States since his inauguration. President Biden described those laws as “some of the ugliest, most un-American laws I’ve seen.”

“Many of them target transgender children receiving the appropriate medical care, for using the bathroom in high school, the one where they’re most safe, even preventing them from joining the sports teams with their classmates,” President Biden said. “Let’s be clear, this is nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation.”

OutRight International praise Jessica Stern

Stern became OutRight International’s Executive Director in 2012, and has overseen a period of growth for the organisation.

Announcing her departure the group said under her leadership OutRight underwent significant transformation and achieved meaningful and lasting impact.

“Jessica’s vision was for OutRight to help LGBTIQ movements accelerate progress by focusing on research, resourcing, and advocacy. She expanded OutRight’s research program, which issued landmark global reports documenting the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people, exposing the global reach of so-called ‘conversion therapy’, and others.” the organisation said in a statement.

“Under her leadership OutRight distributed millions of dollars in grants to LGBTIQ organizations, including by creating the largest Global LGBTIQ+ COVID-19 relief fund in the world; expanded our programs to new regions and areas of work. Moreover, OutRight became a watchdog and advocate at the UN by obtaining official accreditation (ECOSOC status), among other successes impacting the daily lives of LGBTIQ people.”

Co-Chair of OutRight’s Board of Directors, Jenny Pizer, said Stern was a human rights champion.

“The United States is emerging from four years of unreliable foreign policy, distortions of international human rights standards, and backs turned on LGBTIQ people. In such times, LGBTIQ communities need and deserve a clear-eyed human rights champion to galvanize a wise reemergence of the U.S. government insisting on full human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere. Jessica is that person. We who know Jessica’s talents best know what an immense positive impact she can have. This is an exciting new day for our global movement.”

OIP Staff

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