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Message of the UN Secretary-General to Human Rights Film Festival, delivered at the screening of “Call Me Kuchu” by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović, New York, 28 June 2012

29 June 2012

The film you are about to see tells the story of a group of brave, committed men and women who stand up against bigotry and discrimination at great personal risk to themselves.
They are harassed, threatened and attacked. They are treated with a callous cruelty that no human being should have to endure. Yet despite all this, they conduct themselves with calmness, optimism and dignity. It is truly remarkable.
Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is a human rights violation: a violation that States have a moral duty and a legal obligation to address.
At the end of last year, the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the first official United Nations report on the problem. In all regions of the world, LGBT people suffer discrimination — at work, at home, at school, in all aspects of daily life. Too often they have trouble in finding housing or obtaining basic healthcare and pension benefits. Too often they are subjected to verbal abuse or singled out for attack, torture and even murder. In 76 countries, having a partner of the same sex is a prosecutable crime. People are arrested, imprisoned, in some cases executed, just because they are in a loving relationship.
This is an affront to the principles on which the United Nations was founded: equality, freedom, tolerance and the inherent dignity of each individual.
No custom or tradition, no cultural values or religious beliefs, can justify depriving a human being of his or her human rights.
That is why, as UN Secretary-General, I take every opportunity to push leaders to listen and to act. But I am conscious that the hardest work is done by local activists like those you will see in this film.
To them I want to say: You are an inspiration to me and to millions of people around the world. I am proud to join in this great human rights cause. However hard and however long it may take, I know that justice will prevail and that all people can enjoy the rights and dignity they deserve.
28 June 2012