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U.S. Ambassador to the UK delivers Human Rights Day Lecture

The United States Ambassador to the UK, Matthew W. Barzun, delivered the Kaleidoscope Trust's Annual Human Rights Day Lecture, reiterating the U.S. government’s strong commitment to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. 


Speaking to a full auditorium, Ambassador Barzun highlighted the words of Pope Francis “Who am I to judge?” when talking about LGBT clergy as symbolic in increasing acceptance of LGBT people, even though dogma around this issue has not changed in the Catholic Church.


“As we do hard policy work, I want us to reflect on all that we can do before policy, while policy is happening and after policy. The power of symbols and words can effect the kind of change we all want to see around the world.” 

Ambassador Barzun emphasised that symbols and actions need to be genuine. 

“Proper symbols are the opposite of shallow. I am encouraged and I think we should all be encouraged to take risks on authenticity and vulnerability and openness and not get caught up in gimmicks of splash and controversy.”

When asked about how U.S. policy on LGBT rights can influence change around the world, Ambassador Barzun said: “I love the image of it acting as a gentle push or pull and not being lectured at.”


The U.S. State Department champions LGBT rights globally as an Obama administration foreign policy priority. The State Department uses a range of tools to promote LGBT rights around the world, and all of its diplomatic missions support the efforts of LGBT activists.


In 2011, Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of State, delivered a historic speech at the United Nations, declaring that ‘gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights’ and that being gay is not a Western invention but a human reality.


The Kaleidoscope Trust’s Human Rights Day Lecture was held in London on December 17th and was supported by Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer and J.P. Morgan.