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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Türk pledges solidarity with LGBTIQ+ activists

17 May 2023

Pride parade in Chennai, India promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights © REUTERS/P. Ravikumar

Delivered by

Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights



International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

This is a day when we stand up for the diversity of humankind, celebrate the incredible achievements of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and queer people, and applaud their continuing struggle for equality and human rights.

Whatever our sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, all of us are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

This is what Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, adopted 75 years ago and one of the most powerful international agreements the world has seen.

The human rights of all LGBTIQ+ people, as equal members of the human family, must be respected. As the rainbow flag symbolizes, I admire the colourful creativity, richness and fantastic contributions that this movement has made to the human rights cause for everyone. I honour the courage that it often takes to live a life in the face of prejudice, discrimination and violence. I applaud the social progress and societal transformation they have led, benefiting us all.

Their struggle for freedom, respect and equality is a collective struggle.

But it is under attack. In an effort to inflame hostility, sow divisions, distract from real issues and harvest it for political gain, anti-rights groups and their representatives around the world are targeting LGBTIQ+ people for hatred, exacerbating violence, stigmatisation and discrimination.

They are on the wrong side of history.

Love, justice, respect and equality will win.

In the past year alone, four more countries have decriminalized consensual same-sex relations, meaning that in two-thirds of the countries in the United Nations, the law doesn't punish people based on who they love. Three more countries have improved trans people's access to legal recognition of their gender. Two more countries have set up protections for the physical integrity of intersex children.

Still, in many countries LGBTIQ+ people are facing unacceptable pushbacks to their rights.

United, we are stronger. Solidarity has been key to every human rights advance that humanity has made – connecting us and amplifying our demands for justice.

Today my Office is launching a new UN Free & Equal campaign to honour the power of solidarity and advance respect for the rights of LGBTIQ+ communities.

We, and I personally, are deeply committed to this cause.

And we need your help. Solidarity means all of us. We all need to work in solidarity with LGBTIQ+ activists and their communities everywhere to advance equality and rights.

* The UN Free & Equal campaign promotes equal rights and fair treatment for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people around the world. The campaign engages with the public and policymakers to advance social acceptance and positive changes in laws and policies. A new thematic campaign The Power of Solidarity was launched on 16 May on the web and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, featuring unique stories of solidarity shared by LGBTIQ+ human rights defenders from around the world to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its vision of a world where everyone is free and equal, united in solidarity.