United States newly appointed Diplomatic Special Envoy for LGBTQI Rights Jessica Stern, has named Ghana among other countries as areas that pose a threat to the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ persons. She also suggested that Religion played a role in the slow acceptance and respect for the Rights of LGBTQI+ persons in some countries. However, she said that despite the presence of these challenges, she believed with time, many would come to understand and respect the Rights of LGBTQI+ persons. She said this in an interview with an American press house on Friday after being appointed by American President Joe Biden last week.
According to a wide spread online publication on popular American news website ‘Bloomberg’, the newly appointed U.S Special Diplomatic Envoy for LGBTQI Jessica Stern, has been “monitoring far – flung threats to LGBTQI people: recent mass arrests in African countries such as Ghana and Uganda, three killings within a week in Guatemala, and legislation in Hungary…”, the statement read.
But, the U.S Special Envoy on LGBTQI Rights Jessica Stern, has remained optimistic. “I don’t think there’s a country or region that’s all good or all bad. When you look around the world, you see progress and danger simultaneously”, she said.
Even in Africa where South Africa, out of 54 countries, has legalized same sex marriages, U.S Special Envoy on LGBTQI+ believe there is hope. “There’s no doubt it’s a slower journey for LGBTQI Rights in any place where conservative religions play a dominant role, but progress is happening”, she said.
She cited Nigeria as a growing sign of progress stating that a recent poll showed that 25% of the public opposes discrimination against LGBTQI+ people. She said this was a substantial increase from previous years ago.
Jessica Stern added that the fight against LGBTQI+ discrimination was a collective one.”There’s no country that has gotten this right, we all have work to do to ensure we are free from discrimination and violence…. We are all in this together”, she said.
Before her appointment as U.S Special Envoy on LGBTQI Rights, Jessica Stern was the Executive Director of ‘OutRight Action International’; a New York based organization which works globally to prevent abuses of LGBTQI+ people and strengthen their Rights. She also advocated for the legal legislation of LGBTQI+ organizations internationally and worked to secure the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
She also worked with the United Nations to expand the UN General Assembly resolution to include gender identity and co – founded the UN LGBTQI Core group. She is based in New York and is a member of the LGBTQI Reference Group of UNWomen; the UN Organization dedicated to gender quality and the empowerment of women.
Jessica Stern is also an Associate Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is expected to commence official work as the U.S Special Envoy on LGBTQI Rights in September this year.
By Jerry Wonder