US State Department on Monday formally apologised for what it describes as decades of discrimination against LGBT employees.
The unprecedented apology is the latest step that the Obama administration has taken to promote inclusion of the LGBT community in its organisation.
“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,” Kerry wrote in a brief statement.
“These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.”
He added: “On behalf of the department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past.”
In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, which barred known homosexuals from working for the federal government.
It remained until 1995 when President Bill Clinton officially rescinded the order, allowing LGBT people to gain security clearances.
The move follows a late November appeal from Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland that he make the apology to victims of the Lavender Scare.
Thousands of people were fired during that time period, many of them from the State Department, some on grounds that their perceived sexual orientation could put them at risk for blackmail.