Consul General Valerie Fowler’s Remarks at the 2016 LGBTI Pacific Youth Forum
October 12, 2016
What a wonderful way to start this evening, with the lovely welcome to country. In that spirit, I’ll begin by recognizing our elders, past and present.
Honorable Michael Kirby,The Kaleidoscope team, for your leadership in developing this forum, DLA Piper, for your strong support that helps make this event possible,And to each of you, as and who you are, Welcome. It is a pleasure to be here tonight representing the U.S. Mission to Australia, which is proud to partner with Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation to support LGBTI communities in the Asia Pacific. Some of you have traveled a long way to join us for this first-ever LGBTI Pacific Youth Forum; thank you for making the journey, and for your commitment and dedication. And a special thank you to Special Envoy Randy Berry, who has traveled the farthest, from Washington: we will all benefit from your participation and insights this week.
Honorable Michael Kirby, you inspire us with your words. Your commitment to human rights, freedom, and equality make you an icon and leader in Australia and around the world. It is an honor to share the stage with you this evening.
In the United States, decades of activism have resulted in incredible progress on LGBTI rights in recent years. I am proud of the prominence America has given to LGBTI rights in our foreign policy, reflected in part by the appointment of the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry, who joins us tonight and will take part in the forum tomorrow. Only yesterday, Randy and I were speaking about the increased acceptance we have both seen just over the course of our own careers, both within the State Department, but also within our country more broadly.
As Secretary Kerry has said, “Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBTI persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy.” That’s exactly what Special Envoy Berry does so well, and we’re so glad he’s here in Sydney with us today.
The United States and Australia share a commitment to protect the human rights of LGBTI persons, not just across the Pacific, but globally. Our partnership on human rights and on so many other issues – from trade and investment to terrorism to climate change – reflects the shared values that define our countries, and guide our regional and global leadership in the 21st century. In this challenge as in so many others, we are working together to make the world a better place.
The next two days will be an exciting opportunity to learn from each other, explore the advances that have been made across the region, and seek solutions to the challenges that remain. As we celebrate progress, we recognize that there is still so much more work to do, in the United States, in Australia, throughout the Pacific, and indeed around the world.
That work starts tomorrow. But tonight, let’s celebrate everything we have achieved, and the possibilities we have before us. As we kick off this forum, I’ll conclude with this toast:
To inclusion and dignity for all, and to all the participants of the first-ever LGBTI Pacific Youth Forum!