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Ambassador Karen Pierce discusses Capital Pride parade and UK’s LGBTQ+ advocacy

Author: Christopher Wiggins

Pride Month

Related: D.C.’s popular Little Gay Pub gets new ‘GREAT Love’ mural thanks to British Embassy

Pierce, a seasoned diplomat with a deep commitment to human rights, who has served in her current role since 2020, emphasized the importance of Pride Month as a time to celebrate diversity and human rights.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to come together and commemorate the fact that human rights apply to everybody and that nobody should be criticized or condemned because of who they love and who they are,” Pierce said. She highlighted former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s role in introducing same-sex marriage legislation, which she believes was pivotal in advancing equal rights in the U.K.

Cameron, now foreign secretary, recently reflected on his role in marriage equality,writing, “It was never inevitable. I needed persuading. I understood the practical arguments for equal marriage, but I wasn’t convinced about the urgency. It was family, friends and colleagues who helped me see that same-sex marriage was a crucial missing piece in the equality jigsaw. My wife Samantha was particularly vehement. Our marriage had given us so much. Why were we denying same-sex couples that opportunity?”

When asked about the importance of diversity and the inclusion oftransgender people’s role in society, Pierce celebrated the input of diverse points of view.

“I think it’s important to get to know all sorts of people, to be honest,” Pierce said. “If someone wants to play a full role in society and really understand the country they live in, then I think you want to meet as diverse a range of people as possible.” She emphasized that for the British Embassy, understanding the United States of America fully involves engaging with its diverse communities.

The British Embassy’s participation in Pride parades extends beyond Washington, with British embassies around the world taking part in local celebrations. Pierce noted the embassy’s hard-to-miss presence in the Capital Pride Parade, featuring iconic British symbols like the Tower Bridge, the Loch Ness Monster, and participants dressed as The Beatles.

“It’s a great way of giving something back to the city’s communities,” Pierce said, adding that the embassy’s float aims to showcase British culture while celebrating the diversity that Pride represents.

Pierce said her advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights is ingrained partly from her experiences as the U.K.’s permanent representative to the United Nations, where she witnessed firsthand the challenges of passing resolutions on equal rights.

“It is part of the general human rights battle that we have with authoritarian regimes,” she explained, highlighting the resistance and pushback from certain countries likeRussia and China that made it challenging to advance these rights. Her commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community was further demonstrated during a significant moment at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

During her tenure, she said, the Russian delegation proposed a contentious resolution, which aimed to recognize only traditional family structures—defined narrowly as a household consisting of a mother, father, and two children. Pierce passionately opposed this resolution, advocating for a more inclusive definition of family. “You couldn’t say that to some kid who had grown up in a loving but non-traditional household who was convinced they had a family. And so they did,” Pierce recalled. She said this stance was not merely about policy but about acknowledging and validating the lived experiences of individuals in diverse family structures.

Reflecting on herpersonal involvement with the LGBTQ+ community, Pierce shared, “I started to go to the Pride Parade [in New York]. I do enjoy it. I enjoyed it in New York. Enjoy it here. I’m very happy to do anything we can to promote the deeper message behind it.”

In February, Pierce attended an unveiling of a mural on the side of the iconic Little Gay Pub in D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood. The embassy invested in its creation.

Pierce said the British government launched a five-year, $50 million program to support LGBTQ+ rights globally. The initiative focuses on reducing violence and discrimination, improving access to services, and advocating for legislative reform. Pierce highlighted the U.K.’s offer to help Commonwealth countries update their laws, many of which are remnants of old British legislation and include discriminatory statutes.

“This is without lecturing anybody. This is just a kind of service that we’re happy to do from a legal reform perspective to try and move things forward,” she said.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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