Free and Equal: Working With the United Nations To Support LGBT Rights

Discrimination in the workplace, bullying in schools, ostracism by family and friends.  In many cases, criminal penalties that include life imprisonment and even death.  These and other challenges confront lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons every day around the world.  We hear of cases in every country on every continent.  This must end, and only through collective efforts can we ensure that LGBT persons enjoy the same human rights to which all people are entitled.

This week, at the United Nations in both New York and Geneva, members of the international community joined together to answer this call.  In New York on Thursday, Secretary Kerry was a keynote speaker at the UN General Assembly event, “Free and Equal: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights.”  Just one day later, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted only the second-ever UN resolution on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity,” led by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay.

This United States plays an active role in supporting efforts to highlight LGBT rights at the UN.  For example, over 70 countries, including the United States, have signed the UN General Assembly Declaration on LGBT rights.  Additionally, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched a global campaign -- Free & Equal -- which has enlisted leaders, celebrities, and ordinary people from across the world to press for equal treatment for LGBT persons.

We still have a long way to go in the fight for LGBT equality around the world.  These recent steps at the UN are just one part of a concerted global effort to improve the lives of LGBT individuals.  As the Secretary noted on Thursday, it’s “a movement we can ignite with our work here together.  And we will keep moving forward toward our shared goal of justice and equality for all.”

About the Author: Wesley Reisser serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

For more information:

HumanRights.gov -- LGBT Issues

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