17 May 2012 – Marking International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, senior United Nations officials today drew attention to laws around the world which discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and called for equality and the repeal of such laws.
“When I raise these issues, some complain that I’m pushing for ‘new rights’ or ‘special rights’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But there is nothing new or special about the right to life and security of person, the right to freedom from discrimination,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a statement.
“These and other rights are universal… enshrined in international law but denied to many of our fellow human beings simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she added.
While not an officially observed UN day, the majority of which have been established by the UN General Assembly or designated by UN specialized agencies, the International Day against Homophobia, observed on 17 May, has become an important day for millions of people around the world to pause and remember the victims of homophobic violence and discrimination, and to make the case for genuine equality for LGBT people.
According to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), close to 80 countries, territories and areas still have laws that criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults.
“We cannot let these abuses stand. We know what needs to be done,” Ms. Pillay said. “States must repeal discriminatory laws and ban discriminatory practices: punish violence and hatred… not love.”
In connection with the Day, a UN spokesperson said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on States to tackle violence against LGBT people, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, ban discrimination and educate the public – and he “supports the High Commissioner’s message: ‘We are all human and we all deserve the same rights.’”
The spokesperson said Mr. Ban is distressed by the fact that LGBT people are discriminated against in the labour market, in schools and in healthcare, and are even abused and disowned by their own families. “He is outraged that they are singled out for physical attack, even murder,” the spokesperson said. “And he has called for a repeal of laws, now on the books in 76 countries, that criminalize loving relationships between people of the same sex.”
IFSW joins the United Nations in calling for a repeal of discriminatory laws when stating in the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development: “We seek universal implementation of the international conventions and other instruments on social, economic, cultural and political rights for all peoples, including, among others, the rights of children, older people, women, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, and the end to discrimination on the grounds of race and sexual orientation.”
Source: United Nations