A senior diplomat has been appointed as the United States’ first envoy for LGBT rights.

Randy W Berry, who is gay, has been appointed to the senior role within the US State Department by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

He has previously served as Consul General in Amsterdam, and has also had postings for the State Department in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda, South Africa, and Washington DC.

John Kerry said: “Randy’s a leader, he’s a motivator. But most importantly for this effort, he’s got vision.

“Wherever he’s served — from Nepal to New Zealand, from Uganda to Bangladesh, from Egypt to South Africa, and most recently as consul general in Amsterdam — Randy has excelled.

“He’s a voice of clarity and conviction on human rights. And I’m confident that Randy’s leadership as our new special envoy will significantly advance efforts underway to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.”

Chad Griffin of Human Rights Campaign said: “At a moment when many LGBT people around the world are facing persecution and daily violence, this unprecedented appointment shows a historic commitment to the principle that LGBT rights are human rights.

“President Obama and Secretary Kerry have shown tremendous leadership in championing the rights of LGBT people abroad.

“Now, working closely with this new envoy, we’ve got to work harder than ever to create new allies, push back on human rights violators, and support the brave leaders and organizations that fight for LGBT rights around the world.”

Jessica Stern of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission: “The U.S. envoy can contribute to a new era in which the conscience of governments everywhere can be focused on the destabilizing impact of prejudice and abuse that inflicts suffering on millions worldwide.

“Human rights should be a priority for every government in both domestic and foreign policy.”