“I appeal to all governments and societies … to build a world where no one has to be afraid because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
THE UNITED NATIONS’ GLOBAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA
More than a third of the world’s countries criminalize consensual, loving same-sex relationships, entrenching prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment. Many countries force transgender people to undergo medical treatment, sterilization or meet other onerous preconditions before they can obtain legal recognition of their gender identity. Intersex children are often subjected to unnecessary surgery, causing physical and psychological pain and suffering. In many cases, a lack of adequate legal protections combined with hostile public attitudes leads to widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people – including workers being fired from jobs, students bullied and expelled from schools, and patients denied essential healthcare.
In July 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched UN Free & Equal – an unprecedented global UN public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people. In 2017, UN Free & Equal reached 2.4 billion social media feeds around the world and generated a stream of widely shared materials – including powerful videos, impactful graphics and plain-language fact sheets. Several campaign videos – including a popular Bollywood-themed clip “The Welcome” – rank among the most watched videos ever produced by the United Nations. National UN Free & Equal campaigns and events have been organized in almost 30 countries, with visible support from UN, political, community and religious leaders and from celebrities in all regions of the world.
The UN Free & Equal campaign is an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office and implemented with support from UN and non-UN partners at the country level. A number of celebrities have been named as campaign “Equality Champions” – including U.S. singer Ricky Martin, South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian pop star Daniela Mercury and her wife Malu Verçosa Mercury, U.S. hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and the band fun. Other prominent supporters – many of whom have taken part in campaign events – include South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, U.S. basketball champion Jason Collins, Indian actor Imran Khan, U.S. actor Zachary Quinto, and musicians Melissa Etheridge, Sara Bareilles and Rachel Platten.