“This is the first time that so many members of the UN family have joined forces in defence of the basic rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said Charles Radcliffe, the Chief of Global Issues for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“It’s both an expression of commitment on the part of UN agencies, and a powerful call to action for Governments around the world to do more to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and abuses against intersex people,” he added in a news release.
At a high-level event on LGBT rights, held in New York on the margins of the annual debate of the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded the agencies for “speaking in one voice” on this critical issue.
“When the human rights of LGBT people are abused, all of us are diminished. Every human life is precious – none is worth more than another,” he stated.
“This United Nations I lead will never shirk in the fight against discrimination. We will never shy away from protecting the most marginalized and vulnerable people. This is not just a personal commitment – it is an institutional one.”
The event highlighted the linkages between protecting the rights of LGBT people and progress towards achieving the new set of global development goals that world leaders adopted last week.
“There are 17 sustainable development goals all based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind. We will only realize this vision if we reach all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Mr. Ban stated.
Ending marginalization and exclusion of LGBT people is a human rights priority – and a development imperative, he continued.
“We are here together to break down the barriers that prevent LGBT people from exercising their full human rights. When we do that, we will liberate them to fully and productively contribute to our common economic progress…. We can show future generations that the best way to advance our shared goals is to embrace all members of our human family – regardless of who they are or whom they love.”
In at least 76 countries, discriminatory laws criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships, exposing millions of individuals to the risk of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment – and even, in at least five countries, the death penalty.
The joint statement outlines how laws are used to harass, detain, and discriminate against LGBTI people, while laws that criminalize cross-dressing are used to arrest and punish transgender people. These discriminatory laws perpetuate stigma and discrimination, police abuse and torture, and negatively affect public health by hampering vital access to health and HIV treatment and services.
In addition, the statement sets out steps for Governments to stop violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community, including measures to improve the monitoring, reporting and investigation of hate crimes.
In addition to OHCHR, the joint statement has been endorsed by the following UN entities: the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO).