The US state department’s official spokesperson Ned Price has spoken about the importance of LGBT+ representation.
The Biden administration official, who is the first ever openly gay man to be named spokesperson for the US department of state, led his first televised press briefing on Tuesday (2 February).
LGBT+ activists say the appointment of the 38-year-old gay former CIA official to serve as the country’s voice on international issues sends a clear message to the 70 countries where homosexuality remains criminalized.
Innanoshe Richard Akuson, a Nigerian LGBT rights activist, told ABC: “It’s incredibly important for queer people in countries where homosexuality and queerness is a death sentence.”
State department spokesperson Ned Price says inclusiveness and representation matter
Speaking to ABC ahead of his first briefing, Price said: “The point that… President Biden himself has made is that we need a national security workforce that looks like the country we represent, and that’s especially important for the Department of State that’s speaking to rest of world.
“Both in our word and our deed, our values of inclusiveness and strength in diversity will be on full display. Representation matters.”
Biden administration has vowed to appoint a new LGBT+ envoy
Biden’s secretary of state Antony Blinken has also vowed to set about restoring the role of international envoy on LGBT+ human rights, which was introduced under Barack Obama but quietly gutted – alongside much of the department’s work on international LGBT+ rights – under the Trump administration.
Blinken said last month that filling the role was “a matter, I think, of some real urgency”.
He added: “We’ve seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase. We’ve seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of colour, that we’ve seen ever.
“And so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.”