Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday
issued a formal apology to State Department employees who were
discriminated against or fired in the past because of their sexual
“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,” Kerry wrote. “These
actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.”
“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 added.
Kerry's apology appears to be a
reference to the “Lavender Scare,” a purging of gay men and
lesbians in the 1950s from the rolls of United States government.
Gays were said to be a security risk and communist sympathizers.
In November, Maryland Senator Ben
Cardin, a Democrat, asked Kerry
to make a public apology to the victims of the Lavender Scare.
In 2015, Kerry appointed the first ever
Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons. The envoy,
Randy Berry, called on various nations to adopt greater rights for
the LGBT community.