Jessica Stern on Friday was named the new U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQ+ Persons, reports CNN.
Stern, the Executive Director of OutRight Action International, an organization that promotes human rights for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. and abroad, will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House for a statement commemorating Pride Month after the announcement.
Stern is the second individual in this role. The first, Randy Berry, served as special envoy from 2015 until 2017. The position was left vacant by former President Donald Trump. Berry is now an ambassador to Nepal, according to CNN.
"The Special Envoy will play a vital role in leading implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQ+ Persons Around the World. At a time when the human rights of LGBTQ+ 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," the White House said in a statement Thursday.
As Executive Director of OutRight Action, Stern advocated for the legal registration of LGBTQ+ organizations internationally and worked to secure the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. She also worked to expand the UN General Assembly resolution to include gender identity and co-founded the UN LGBTQ+ Core Group.
Stern is based in New York and is a member of the LGBTQ+ Reference Group of UNWomen, the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. She teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Biden is the first president to acknowledge the International Transgender Day of Visibility. In January, the president issued an executive order to extend existing federal non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ individuals. The order directed all federal agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s landmark 2020 decision in Boston v. Clayton County, Georgia which established that LGBTQ+ people are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This order directed any federal agency with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said "the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a U.S. president," NBC reported.
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