(Asahi: February 16, 2015 – p. 13)
On Feb. 12, the Asahi Shimbun interviewed Randy Berry (51), the first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons of the U.S. Department of State. “The U.S. and Japan should coordinate closely in exercising leadership to promote the human rights of sexual minorities around the world,” said the envoy, who publicly acknowledged that he is gay.
On this trip Berry visited six Asian countries and regions including Japan. He met with Diet members and human rights groups here. Currently, a nonpartisan league of Diet members aims to submit a bill to prohibit discrimination against sexual minorities. “The move is encouraging and gives us hope,” said the official, who welcomed Japanese lawmakers’ move to protect the human rights of LGBTI persons.
According to a U.S. research organization, about 60% of Americans opposed gay marriage 20 years ago, but last year about 60% supported it. “This is a consequence of courageous people’s efforts over the last 40 years,” said the envoy.
The official had assignments in African nations where he experienced conflicts over the human rights of sexual minorities. “This is matter of equality and freedom and should not be made a political issue,” he emphasized.