Posts Tagged 'Navi Pillay'

Free and Equal: A Global Public Education Campaign Combatting Homophobia and Transphobia

United Nations Free and EqualOn 16 July, human rights defender and journalist Eric Lembembe was brutally tortured and murdered in Cameroon. Cases like these are reported far too often throughout the world.

A 2011 report by the UN Human Rights Office found an alarming pattern of brutal violence and widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in all regions. In 76 countries, adult same-sex relationships are criminalized, exposing lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals to the risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture, and even, in five countries, the death penalty.

While attitudes are shifting and many Governments are slowly making progress implementing reforms including anti-discrimination and hate crime laws, more work remains to be done, in all regions, to tackle hate-motivated violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

At a press event in Cape Town, South Africa, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, launched Free & Equal, an unprecedented global public education campaign to promote greater respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people everywhere.

Speaking at the launch, Pillay argued that eradicating discrimination of any kind required more than just changes in laws and policies; it took a change in people’s hearts and minds as well.

“Changing attitudes is never easy,” she said. “But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one. It begins with often difficult conversations. With this campaign, we want to help start and inform millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.”

In addition to engaging fact sheets and articles, Free & Equal will generate a stream of creative content – including short videos, infographics and testimonies –all designed to dispel common misconceptions and negative stereotypes and encourage people to look at the lives of LGBT people through the eyes of LGBT people and their families. All campaign materials will be made available on the campaign’s website,

UN Human Rights OfficePillay described Nelson Mandela as a great source of inspiration for the campaign and recalled his faith in education as the best weapon against prejudice. “He used to say that people are not born hating one another; they learn to hate,” Pillay said. “And that if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love—that love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

The Free & Equal campaign was conceived and developed by the UN Human Rights Office and is implemented in partnership with the Purpose Foundation—a non-profit organization that develops global social-media driven campaigns on human rights issues.

Several global celebrities have already pledged their support for the campaign including musician Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.

You can learn more about Free & Equal and sign up to receive campaign materials and updates by visiting the campaign website at, or follow the campaign at or via Twitter @free_equal.

Born Free and Equal, New Report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Born Free and Equal - OHCHRToday the Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on sexual orientation and gender identity in human rights law titled, “Born Free and Equal“. The 60 page booklet outlines the 5 core legal obligation of states to protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Sections include: protecting individuals from homophobic and transphobic violence, prevention of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons, decriminalizing homosexuality, the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and respecting freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The report draws on over 18 years of documented violations of the human rights of LGBT people and analysis of state compliance with international human rights law. This report summarizes and advises states on meeting their fundamental human rights obligations. The booklet is also meant to assist human rights defenders in holding states accountable to these obligations.

Visit the OHCHR website to find out more. The report will also be released in Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese in the coming months. You can download the English version here.

Pillay presents groundbreaking UN study on violence, discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations

Watch the full Panel discussion on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to the Panel on ending violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity at the Human Rights Council 19th Session 

Geneva, 7 March 2012


Distinguished representatives,

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to present my study on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In doing so, I am conscious of the divergent view both within and outside the Council on the rights of individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, I am certain that none among you will be willing to tolerate serious, systematic violations of human rights against them.

The Secretary-General says he didn’t grow up talking about these issues. The same may be true for a number of us here today. Like the Secretary-General, we are in the process of educating ourselves. But it is time to acknowledge that, while we have been talking of other things, terrible violence and discrimination has been perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

This Council stood up for the rights of all when, last June, States from all regions joined together to adopt resolution 17/19 expressing “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

By the same resolution, the Council requested me to prepare a study “to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world”, and to examine “how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” Continue reading ‘Pillay presents groundbreaking UN study on violence, discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation’

Video: How gay rights debate began at the UN

Watch UN human rights chief Navi Pillay looks back at the evolution of the gay rights

No place for homophobia here

SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION: Supporters at the service of lesbian Noxolo Nogwaza in KwaThema. Nogwaza had been raped and killed after an argument with some men who had tried to proposition her girlfriend

photo courtesy: Moeletsi Mabe

Repost from The Star (South Africa)

by By Navi Pillay

South Africa has given the world some powerful ideas – foremost among them the concept of the rainbow nation, where diversity is a source of strength and everyone is entitled to equal rights and respect.

It is especially saddening that the country reborn under Nelson Mandela’s watchful eye should now be the setting for a far more sinister phenomenon that undermines everything the rainbow nation stands for: so-called corrective rape.

The disturbing term “corrective rape” describes the rape of lesbians or women perceived to be lesbian by men who claim to be trying to “correct” their victims’ sexuality. In the worst cases, such attacks have been fatal.

Rape and comparable sexual violence against anyone is a serious crime that must never be condoned nor tolerated.

This kind of rape is part of a wider pattern of sexual violence that tragically affects women across South Africa and elsewhere. Continue reading at The Star

Laws criminalizing homosexuality are incompatible with international human rights standards and fuel homophobia

repost from UNHCR website

Laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults remain on the statute books in more than 70 countries. They are an affront to principles of equality and non-discrimination and fuel hatred and violence—in effect giving homophobia a State-sanctioned seal of approval. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon have both called for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and for further measures to counter discrimination and prejudice directed at those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). In recent months, a series of incidents and developments have underscored the extent and the urgency of the challenge. Continue reading the story.

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