U.S. LGBT Envoy “hopeful” after trip to Southern Africa

Randy Berry, the U.S. State Department’s first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, on Wednesday completed a major trip to Southern Africa.  Berry visited Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa over a 10-day period.

Speaking with journalists at the end of his trip, Berry stated that in all the countries he visited, “there are seeds of hope” when it comes to furthering civil rights.  He continued, “with government representatives, I found them to be sensitive to the issues, wanting to engage very clearly… After these consultations, I am quite hopeful.”

He later said, “change is not going to occur because the U.S. wants it to. Change comes through those people working indigenously within those societies to produce a more equitable framework.”  LGBT people in Africa face widespread discrimination, and in a majority of the continent’s countries homosexuality is outlawed.  Gay sex is illegal in Malawi, Namibia and Botswana, although this is rarely enforced.  South Africa is the only African nation that allows same-sex marriage.

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