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UN marks International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Around the world, 67 countries still criminalise same-sex relations, with 10 imposing the death penalty.
Around the world, 67 countries still criminalise same-sex relations, with 10 imposing the death penalty.

UN marks International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Human Rights

Secretary-General António Guterres, marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on Wednesday, urging UN Member States to protect the rights of LGBTQI+ people.   

Mentioning this year’s theme in a statement to mark the day, Together Always: United in Diversity, the UN chief called on leaders ‘to speak with one voice” to eliminate stigma and discrimination, that result in sometimes deadly attacks targeting LGBTQI+ communities.

The Secretary-General showed his deep concern over the levels of violence directed towards LGBTQI+ people and how those communities are still vulnerable to multiple forms of attack.

“As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, we face a stark fact. In every corner of the world, LGBTQI+ people continue to face violence, persecution, hate speech, injustice, and even outright murder,” said the UN chief.

Ending criminalization

He called on Member States to stop criminalization of LGBTQI+ people around the world and punishing them for “simply being who they are.”

He said each assault on a LGBTQI+ person was an assault on human rights:

“I renew my call to all Member States to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and end the criminalization of consensual same-sex relations and transgender people. Being yourself should never be a crime,” said Mr. Guterres.  

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Calling on States

In a statement on Tuesday, a group of independent human rights experts on Tuesday called on Member States to address racism and stigma against LGBTQI+ people in a joint statement. They called on States to adopt measures to end the various forms of violence and discrimination directed against the community.   

“We call on States to uphold the inherent dignity of all persons, without any distinction, by adopting measures to eradicate racial discrimination, exclusion, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, violence, and stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse (LGBT) persons,” the human rights experts said.

Racial discrimination  

The rights experts also recalled that to end structural violence against LGBTQI+ people, States must take an intersectional approach and consider how different social identities contribute to how communities are affected by different forms of discrimination.

“Racialization, ethnicity, age, colour, disability, national and residential and socio-economic status, expose LGBT persons to different forms of discrimination that affect their ability to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction of any kind.

“To adequately analyse how structural inequalities lead to violence and exposure to risk, it is a must to adopt an intersectional approach. While some people are privileged, most face discrimination and violence, including arbitrary displacement, because of their multiple intersecting identities,” the experts said.

Independent human rights experts and other UN Human Rights Council-appointed rights experts, work on a voluntary and unpaid basis, are not UN staff, and work independently from any government or organisation.

Love, justice, respect, and solidarity

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, pointed out in a statement marking the day, that although some countries have changed discriminatory laws for the better, more needs to be done.

“In the past year alone, four more countries have decriminalized consensual same-sex relations, meaning that in two thirds of the countries in the United Nations, the law doesn't punish people based on who they love.

“Three more countries have improved trans people's access to legal recognition of their gender. Two more countries have set up protections for the physical integrity of intersex children. Still, in many countries LGBTIQ+ people are facing unacceptable pushbacks to their rights,” Mr. Türk added.

“Love, justice, respect and equality will win,” he declared, calling on the power of solidarity to stop hate and discrimination against LGBTQI+ people.

“We need your help. Solidarity means all of us. We all need to work in solidarity with LGBTIQ+ activists and their communities everywhere to advance equality and rights.”