WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday the United States was "unwavering" in its commitment to protecting homosexuals worldwide, as he introduced Washington's first envoy for gay rights.
Mr Randy Berry, who was named Monday, is tasked with helping countries coordinate US strategy on rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as to highlight such issues around the world.
"The United States of America remains unwavering in our commitment to advance the human rights of all human beings, and that includes LGBT persons prominently, appropriately equal to everybody else - here at home and around the world," Mr Kerry said to wide applause. "I'd just say loudly and clearly: no matter who you are and no matter who you love, we stand with you. That's more than a message, that is a movement that we can ignite and with our work together we will see this movement succeed."
Mr Berry, standing with his husband and two children, decried the violation of LGBT rights worldwide. "This love still stands ground for imprisonment, harassment, torture and far worse in too many places around the world. That is a violation of human rights," he said.
Mr Berry, the current consul-general in Amsterdam, has had several postings, including in Nepal, New Zealand, Uganda, Bangladesh, Egypt and South Africa.
US President Barack Obama's administration has repeatedly pressed foreign governments on the human rights of gays and lesbians, systematically drawing attention to rights abuses or repression in several African countries.
The US Supreme Court announced last month it will hear a case on same-sex marriage later this year that is expected to finally settle the debate in America surrounding the long-running civil rights issue.