The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the highest human rights official in the UN system, released a video and a pamphlet last week decrying violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. The video and pamphlet were released for use at events worldwide on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). IDAHO marks the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. See a list of IDAHO events and campaigns here.
The UN video highlights LGBT hate crimes in the United States, Brazil, Honduras and South Africa, stressing that such incidents are not isolated but part of a global pattern of targeted violence. “Ultimately, homophobia and transphobia are no different to sexism, misogyny, racism or xenophobia”, the High Commissioner notes, “but whereas these last forms of prejudice are universally condemned by Governments, homophobia and transphobia are too often overlooked.”
The UN pamphlet is titled The United Nations Speaks Out: Tackling Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and can be used as a public information resource. It clarifies that LGBT rights are not special rights but are part and parcel of the fundamental human rights we all enjoy. As UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon stated in January, “we must reject persecution of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, who may be arrested, detained or executed for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. I understand that sexual orientation and gender identity raise sensitive cultural issues. But cultural practice cannot justify any violation of human rights. When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out. Human rights are human rights everywhere, for everyone.”
To download the pamphlet:
The pamphlet is available as a pdf file from the OHCHR website (go to http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Discrimination/Pages/LGBT.aspx and look for the link “brochure” in the right-hand column).
To view or download the High Commissioner’s video:
The video is in English, with French and Spanish sub-titled versions. The video and scripts are available to view or download from the following platforms:
- YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/UNOHCHR
- Facebook: “United Nations Human Rights”