The United States and Australia both followed circuitous routes to marriage equality. When US Ambassador to Australia John Berry (ret'd) first arrived in Australia in 2013, he was the first openly-gay US ambassador to a G20 country. However, not only was same-sex marriage not legal in Australia, it was not yet legal in all of the United States. In Australia, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce AC was one of the most influential voices in the marriage equality campaign. How have these influential leaders seen LGBTQ+ rights advance in their lifetimes? How did the journey to marriage equality compare between the United States and Australia? What work still needs to be done, and what role can the close US-Australia relationship play?

As Sydney welcomes WorldPride 2023, the United States Studies Centre was honoured to welcome Qantas CEO Alan Joyce AC and former US Ambassador to Australia John Berry in conversation with the ABC’s political commentator Annabel Crabb.

Alan Joyce AC was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Qantas in 2008. Most recently he has led the Group’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, which had a devastating impact on the global aviation industry. As a senior business figure in Australia, Alan is well known for championing inclusion and diversity. He was named a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List for his contributions to gender equity, inclusion and diversity, and a supporter of Indigenous education, as well as for his contribution to tourism and aviation. He is a Patron of the Pinnacle Foundation, providing educational scholarships, mentoring and opportunities for young LGBTQ+ people, and is a founding member of Pride in Diversity.

Ambassador John Berry is President of the American Australian Association. He served as United States Ambassador to Australia under President Obama from 2013 to 2016, the first openly-gay person to be appointed and confirmed as US Ambassador to a G20 Nation. Berry led former President Obama’s successful LGBT strategy and was the first openly-gay person confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate as well as the highest-ranking openly-gay person in US history at the time when he was confirmed as Director of the Office of Personnel Management in 2009.