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Equal rights for everyone, whomever they love

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has renewed her call for States to confront prejudice towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons.

A candlelight vigil in support of marriage rights for same sex couples.  © AP Photo/George Nikitin

In a new video message, Pillay talks about recent violent attacks against LGBT people in Brazil, Honduras, South Africa and, the United States, stressing that such incidents are not isolated but part of a global problem. The video is available in English with, optionally, French or Spanish subtitles.

“Ultimately, homophobia and transphobia are no different to sexism, misogyny, racism or xenophobia”, Pillay notes, “but whereas these last forms of prejudice are universally condemned by governments, homophobia and transphobia are too often overlooked.”

Equality and non-discrimination are core, non-negotiable human rights principles. “No one is entitled to treat a group of people as less valuable, less deserving or less worthy of respect. Each and every one of us is entitled to the same rights, to the same respect and ethical treatment, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity”, she says.

In an appeal for greater tolerance, the High Commissioner asks those opposed to equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people to think again. Governments have a role to play in encouraging a shift in public attitudes, she says, “In this and in other areas, prejudice and bigotry are no match for information and education”.

The High Commissioner’s video message comes ahead of May 17 — the date when many human rights activists, national governments and local authorities mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

The video release is accompanied by the publication of a pamphlet, The United Nations Speaks Out: Tackling Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, produced jointly by the UN human rights office (OHCHR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO). The pamphlet is available for download in English, with other language versions to follow.

ENDS

6 May 2011