Free & Equal campaign launched

26 Jul 2013

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Ha Noi - Today, in Cape Town, South Africa, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay launched the Free & Equal campaign – a global UN public information campaign designed to raise awareness of homophobic violence and discrimination, and promote greater respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. 

What does this campaign advocate for?
Human rights really are universal. Everyone, whoever they are and wherever they live, is entitled to the same rights – and that includes LGBT people. Violence and discrimination against LGBT people, which has been documented in all regions, is unacceptable and illegal under international human rights law.

LGBT people are just that: people. The United Nations wants to encourage those who perhaps have never thought much about this issue before to learn more about the lives of LGBT people, their hopes and fears, and become better informed about the human rights challenges they face.

Things can get better. For all the bad news, the long term trends are positive. Attitudes are shifting in many parts of the world and Governments are gradually stepping forward and implementing necessary reforms.

Global situation
The campaign is being launched at a time when LGBT people have seen important legal advances in many countries but are facing an array of repressive measures in some.  In no part of the world do LGBT people enjoy full legal equality free from the threat of violence and discrimination. A December 2011 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (the first official UN report dedicated to the issue) found an alarming pattern of human rights violations directed at LGBT people – from discriminatory practices in the workplace, in schools, in healthcare and in other settings through to criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships and violent hate-motivated attacks, including killings.

Situation in Viet Nam
There has been widespread stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Viet Nam, but the country is making progress recently towards elimination of these  stigma and discrimination. The LGBT community in Viet Nam has received much support for capacity building, has grown much stronger and it is now actively advocating for the rights of LGBT people. A National Network of Men Who have Sex with Men and Transgender is going to be established at the end of this month and the second Viet Gay Pride festival is taking place on 2-4 August nationwide (http://www.vietpride.info/).

On this year's International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (17th May), the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Viet Nam, Pratibha Mehta said, “The UN is very encouraged to see Viet Nam's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community engaging in stronger, more constructive dialogue with the Government, as well as the wider public. This is vital in order to be better understood, to reduce social prejudice and stigma based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to contribute to development of relevant legislation to ensure the rights of the community are protected.”

UN in Viet Nam’s pledge
The United Nations pledges to support Viet Nam’s efforts to ensure that all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are removed so all Vietnamese people can enjoy their human rights. LGBT people should have equal access to the educational, social and healthcare services they need, as well as the opportunities to be able to fulfill their ambitions and aspirations. Therefore the UN encourages all LGBT people in Viet Nam to take part in the Free & Equal campaign and start the conversation today among Vietnamese people together with people from around the world.  

Visit the campaign website: http://www.unfe.org.