Monday, April 06, 2009

Obama appoints gay man interim ambassador to India

Obama appoints gay man interim ambassador to India

Peter Burleigh, a seasoned foreign service officer with deep expertise in South Asian affairs, will serve as America’s top diplomat in India until a permanent ambassador is named, according to reports in the Indian press.

In a 2008 profile of Burleigh in the South Florida Blade, the former acting ambassador to the United Nations said he had sometimes had to hide his sexual orientation during his more than 30-year career as diplomat:

“Up until the 1980s, it was dangerous [to be out] because you couldn’t do foreign work without security clearance,” Burleigh said. “By 1990, it was no longer a problem if you were out.”

Burleigh said he was open about his sexuality within the State Department once the policy changed. He kept his private life to himself, however, when he was assigned to foreign countries where homophobic attitudes prevailed in the culture.

The Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute’s Presidential Appointments Project is championing several openly gay candidates for ambassadorial nominations as President Obama pulls together his diplomatic team. For information on the Presidential Appointments Project, go here.

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