US Secretary of State John Kerry has issued an apology for past discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTI community at the State Department.
“On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the Department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community,” he said in a statement.
Kerry said he’s “stood strongly in support of the LGBTI community” throughout his term as Secretary of State, but in the State Department of years gone by that had not always been the case.
“In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place,” he said.
“These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.”
US Democratic Senator Ben Cardin explained in a letter to Kerry in November that “at least 1,000 people were dismissed” from the State Department “for alleged homosexuality” during the 1950s and 1960s in what was dubbed the “Lavender Scare,” LGBTI publication the Washington Blade reported.
Cardin said the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security “forced out” employees on the grounds that their sexual orientation “rendered them vulnerable to blackmail, prone to getting caught in ‘honey traps’ and made them security risks.”
He wrote the State Department also had a screening process to “prevent those who ‘seemed like they might be gay or lesbian’ from being hired.”
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) January 9, 2017
(Top photo via State Department Twitter)