Tag Archives: #IDAHOT

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation Releases Equality Rising report

This week, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released Equality Rising report, which is outlines the many of the successes and setbacks of LGBT activists, advocates, and allies around the world in 2013. Released for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – #IDAHOT, this report aims to educate people about many of the notable events from last year in the growing global equality movement.

Equality Rising highlights victories for marriage equality in five nations, progress in the fight for transgender equality on at least four continents, as well as increased LGBT visibility broadly and tremendous acts of courage in nations as dangerous for LGBT people as Iran.  The report also documents new anti-LGBT laws, ongoing persecution and violence, and efforts by extreme anti-LGBT Americans to export hateful rhetoric and misinformation abroad.

A few highlights from the report include:

  • More nations—Brazil, France, New Zealand, England and Wales in the United Kingdom, and Uruguay—opened the doors to marriage equality in 2013 than any year in history. These victories brought the total number of nations extending full marriage rights to all of its citizens to 16.
  • Although millions of transgender people around the world remain frequent targets for discrimination, at least eight nations on four continents took tangible steps toward greater equality for transgender and intersex citizens.
  • LGBT people have become more visible globally that ever before—in the workplace, on television, and running for office at the local, state, and national levels and winning.
  • Nigeria, Russia, and Uganda passed laws in 2013 that inhibited the freedom of speech and association of LGBT people and their allies, with the law in Uganda allowing for life imprisonment as a punishment for “aggravated homosexuality”.
  • In more than 80 countries, LGBT people are considered criminals for simply being who they are. They are frequently demonized for political gain, and they remain targets of harassment, arrest, violence, and in some cases, torture.

Equality Rising comes on the heels of last year’s announcement of HRC Foundation’s global engagement program, which is dedicated to joining advocates around the world in advancing global equality. The program aims to do so by educating Americans on the human rights of LGBT people around the world; exposing the work of prominent anti-gay American organizations that have pushed anti-gay laws and legislation overseas; leveraging its relationships with American policymakers, faith communities, corporations and other change agents to help protect the human rights of LGBT people abroad; and providing fellowships at HRC for foreign LGBT advocates.

‘Equality Begins With You’ UN Secretary’s Message of Support for #IDAHOT

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a message in support of the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, via LinkedIn, yesterday.

Ban Ki-moon observed that, “In all parts of the world today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experience discrimination in every aspect of daily life… We have a long road ahead. It will not be easy. But we must ask ourselves: Do we want to live in a world where love is targeted or where it is celebrated; where people live in fear or in dignity?”

His message of support was also promoted via the United Nations official Twitter account (@UN), which read “Equality begins with you – Ban Ki-moon weighs in on #IDAHOT here”.

Read his message

Think about your average day. Maybe you hurry to work, attend meetings, rush to meet deadlines. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you have lunch with colleagues, share a joke, and discuss plans for the evening.

Now think about another day, one spent with a feeling of persistent anxiety – when listening to colleagues’ jokes, when asked about your weekend plans. You cannot share the details of your life for fear of the consequences. You cannot share who you are – or whom you love.

I hope you relate to the first scenario. Sadly, for many, the second will be more familiar.

In all parts of the world today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experience discrimination in every aspect of daily life. As children, too many are bullied by their peers, rejected by their own families, driven to drop out of school. As adults, too many suffer stigma, unfair treatment, even violence. In 76 countries, having a partner of the same sex is even a prosecutable crime. People are arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases executed, just because they are in a loving relationship.

Unfortunately, LGBT people also face deeply-ingrained hostility in the place where many of us spend most of our waking hours – at work.

In most countries, national anti-discrimination laws still do not offer adequate protection on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that employers are free to fire or refuse to hire people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Even in companies where coworkers accept their LGBT colleagues, discriminatory corporate policies often lead to differential treatment – whether in relation to recognition of same-sex partners, employee benefits or pension entitlements.

As Secretary-General of the UN, I believe in and strive to achieve the world promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a world rooted in tolerance, freedom and equality; a world where we are ALL free to live a life of dignity. There are no exceptions. Human rights are for everyone, no matter who you are or whom you love.

While all countries need to do more, we have seen some positive developments in recent years. Sixty-twocountries now have laws that protect people against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, although only a handful also cover gender identity.

Yet changes in law alone are not enough; they need to be matched by efforts to change social attitudes.

Businesses have a vital role to play in creating a culture of diversity in which people are treated fairly and with sensitivity, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

I’ve written here about how equality — of women, of persons with disabilities — is good for business, and LGBT equality is no exception. A workplace that promotes an atmosphere of openness, respect and dignity is one that also promotes loyalty, productivity and produces results. It has a positive impact not just on LGBT employees but on all workers, not to mention on clients and consumers.

We are seeing promising signs in the private sector. Several major companies have reformed internal policies and practices to ensure they do not discriminate against LGBT employees and are conducting sensitivity training for managers and other staff. We need all business leaders to set an example by committing themselves and their companies to instill equality as a core value — one reflected in the way they do business and treat their employees.

Equality begins at home and I am all too aware that LGBT colleagues at the UN, and their families, continue to face challenges. I heard many of their concerns first-hand when I met with LGBT staff. I pledged to address their problems. All staff members are part of the UN family and deserve to be treated equally.

We have a long road ahead. It will not be easy. But we must ask ourselves: Do we want to live in a world where love is targeted or where it is celebrated; where people live in fear or in dignity?

Millions of people around the world observe the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May. This year, the UN human rights office has released a short video as part of its Free & Equal campaign called “The Power of Sharing.” The video focuses on the impact that each of us can have by sharing our own stories and by showing our support for our LGBT colleagues, friends and family members. I encourage you all to watch the video and share it to help spread the word.

Changing people’s attitudes takes time, effort and perseverance. It takes us all to speak up and speak out against homophobia, even when it’s presented as harmless fun or as an accepted cultural trait. It’s not. It’s discrimination. And it’s our responsibility to fight it and to strive for a world that is truly free and equal.