Gay U.S. Diplomats Still Battle Discrimination Abroad
Despite recently won rights at home, LGBTI+ members of the Foreign Service are not welcome in 70 countries.
By NICHOLAS KRALEV and LOUIS SAVOIA | JULY 18, 2021
Last month, the U.S. Department of State flew the rainbow flag in front of its main building in Foggy Bottom for the first time. Photo courtesy of the Department of State.
More than a decade ago, Victor (not his real name), a U.S. Foreign Service officer then in his 30s, started a tour in a Middle Eastern country. He wanted to bring along his partner, who wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Even though the U.S. government didn’t officially recognize same-sex relationships, the State Department tolerated them. The bigger problem was the host-country, which refused to grant Victor’s partner a visa. Eventually, the U.S. Embassy found a “workaround”: the only way for the couple to be together was for Victor to hire his partner as a “dome..
To understand digital diplomacy, one must first understand the digital society. The reason being that diplomacy is a social institution and diplomats are social beings. Processes that affect society as a whole affect diplomats and it is through diplomats that such processes permeate into MFAs giving rise to new norms, values and working routines. Sociologists have argued that the digital society can be characterised by three main features. First, it is a society that exists in real-time. Indeed, people no longer wait for the morning’s newspaper or the evening’s newscast to learn about world events. Through social media and news sites people learn about world events as they unfold. Moreover, digital technologies render time meaningless as information and capital circle the globe within seconds while transatlantic Zoom meetings enable participants all over the world to interact in real-time.
Second, the digital society is one that transforms openness and transparency into a virtue. Memb..
Each week, I publish a list of interesting articles, essays and reports that may be of interest to the digital diplomacy community. This week –
Two-thirds of Ultra-Orthodox Israelis are online, COVID driving them to tech training (Times of Israel)How Russia tries to censor Western social media (BBC News)The worst technology of 2021 (MIT Technology Review)India antitrust watchdog orders investigation into Apple’s business practices (TechCrunch)A program for cheaper internet for low-income Americans launches today (The Verge)How “Digital Twins” Are Transforming Manufacturing (Time Magazine)2022 will be the biggest year for the metaverse so far (CNBC)5 predictions for bitcoin, NFTs and the future of money (Cnet)Why our values should drive our technology choices (NATO Review)
Some light reading- The Hollow Crown, by Dan Jones
The universe, as we now know, began with a bang. A big bang to be precise. A cataclysmic and cosmic explosion that at once gave birth to more than 120 billion galaxies. Digital diplomacy also began with a bang, or a momentous event that instigated a global change in the practice of diplomacy. This event, according to many scholars, was Sweden’s 2008 decision to launch a digital Embassy on the virtual world of Second Life. While it is true that the telegraph, fax and email all predate Sweden’s digital Embassy, and while all these technologies are digital, none of them ushered the current age of digital diplomacy.
In retrospect, Sweden’s digital Embassy foretold how this digital age would evolve. First, Sweden never intended for its digital Embassy to replace its physical posts. Rather, the Embassy on Second Life would be used to augment Sweden’s diplomatic efforts by creating the world’s first, global Embassy accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Second, Sweden’s Embassy us..