Thank you, Mike. I’m so pleased to work on this reception and other initiatives with glifaa.
Welcome, everyone. Today and throughout Pride Month, we come together to celebrate the progress we’ve made and to acknowledge there is still so much work to be done to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.
But I will begin with gratitude. In the U.S. and around the world, advocates for LGBTQI+ persons sacrificed so that I could be here with you today, an out, proud, queer person as the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons.
I’m one of the highest-ranking lesbians at the Department of State. That matters, because too often, queer women like me –- be they transgender, intersex or cis-gender — are in danger at the cruel intersections of sexism and anti-LGBTQI+ hatred.
To everyone who made this position possible: thank you. I pledge to fight bias targeting LGBTQI+ people on any grounds, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, or any other status.
In my role, I spread the Administration’s message about LGBTQI+ persons globally, and it is quite simple. We see you. Our LGBTQI+ friends, neighbors, and colleagues are our fellow human beings, and we will never stop working to ensure you enjoy the safety, dignity, human rights that every person deserves.
As authoritarianism threatens inclusive democracy and as many LGBTQI+ persons face discrimination, imprisonment, violence, and even death around the world, this message matters more than ever.
It’s true: discrimination and violence targeting LGBTQI+ people everywhere remain pervasive and extreme. But I’ve just returned from 7 countries across Asia and Europe, and I bring good news.
I saw firsthand that change is afoot in the global struggle for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons. Ambition for the full respect for LGBTQI+ persons in law, policy and society is everywhere. LGBTQI+ human rights defenders and their allies are pushing for change, and change is coming.
In every meeting, I also heard the same steady message: what the United States says and does makes a difference. When governments make the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons a priority, we can accelerate the pace of change.
I am proud of this Administration’s deep commitment to LGBTQI+ persons, including the President’s February 2021 memorandum identifying key lines of effort and the President’s new executive order signed on Wednesday.
As I draw to a close, I want to share a story. Just two weeks ago, I was in Lithuania, marching in Baltic Pride. There were maybe 17,000 of us, and the march was a huge success.
There were no protests. There was police protection. And there were smiling bystanders.
I talked with a 25-year-old who had traveled by bus for 8 hours from Estonia to be there — the largest Pride march she had ever seen. She radiated joy. She found her community.
In a moment, I will invite Secretary Blinken to the podium. But, before I do, I want to note that this past Wednesday he participated in the first-ever media roundtable by a U.S. Secretary of State that was devoted exclusively to LGBTQI+ issues.
This is one more concrete demonstration of Secretary Blinken’s commitment to ensuring that LGBTQI+ issues are visible and valued.
Secretary Blinken, over to you.