In a surprising move, the Trump administration has announced that it will retain openly gay diplomat Randy Berry as America’s first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.
The position was created by the State Department under the Obama administration in February 2015 with the aim of moving “towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons”.
Berry has visited dozens of countries around the world in support of LGBT equality, including notoriously homophobic states such as Uganda and regions like the Middle East.
After Trump was elected president, it was widely assumed that the position would be scrapped. According to Foreign Policy, however, this won’t be the case.
It was told by a State Department spokesperson on Monday that Berry will continue “in his role under the current administration”.
The news is sure to frustrate conservative Christian leaders who backed Trump’s candidacy and had called for the position be scrapped.
Berry visited Southern Africa in early 2016, meeting with officials, civil society activists and journalists in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa.
He told Mambaonline then that his role was not one of trying “to force people or to threaten” countries to change their anti-LGBT laws but to start a conversation on the issue of equality.
“I think we can go into some of these places to really bring that conversation back to the pragmatic, simple concept of equality. I would say that some of my best meetings, the most constructive engagements and among the warmest meetings I’ve had have been in some of the most challenging environments,” he said.