The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday launched Free & Equal, an unprecedented global public education campaign for LGBT equality.
The Free & Equal campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and encourage greater respect for the rights of LGBT people.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights – no exceptions, no-one left behind,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in South Africa, where she announced the initiative. “Yet it’s still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.”
Today, more than 76 countries still criminalize consensual, same-sex relationships, while in many more discrimination against LGBT people is widespread – including in the workplace as well as in the education and health sectors. Hate-motivated violence against LGBT people, including physical assault, sexual violence, and targeted killings, has been recorded in all regions of the world.
Just within the last few weeks, we have seen atrocious attacks on LGBT people in Cameroon, Russia, and Montenegro. For years, we have been following anti-LGBT violence and the 'kill the gays' bill in Uganda.
"My own experience has demonstrated that simply being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is a punishable offense too often," said GLAAD National Spokesperson, Omar Sharif Jr. Sharif came out in 2012 through an op-ed in The Advocate Magazine, causing severe anti-gay backlash in his home country of Egypt. "The Free & Equal program is in a unique position to be able to educate and inform the global community, and seriously reduce the culture of repression that LGBT people face in Russia, Uganda, Montenegro, and my home country of Egypt."
A number of celebrities with a commitment to equality have pledged their support for Free & Equal and spreading the word via social media. These include the pop star Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.
The first release of Free & Equal is a video, entitled ‘The Riddle’ which was released for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Join Omar Sharif Jr., Ricky Martin, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Celina Jaitly, Daniela Mercury, and more in promoting LGBT equality worldwide.
Watch and share 'The Riddle' on YouTube
Follow the Free & Equal campaign on social media: