The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that all people, without exception, are entitled to protection of their human rights, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentplaces strong emphasis on the concepts of non-discrimination, universality and leaving no one behind. These principles apply to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. Yet, around the world, persons of diverse sex, sexual orientation and gender identity continue to face discrimination, a proliferation in hate speech, including on social media, and acts of violence that too often go unpunished.
The fight against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia is, at its heart, a fight against exclusion. When people are left out, they can get left behind. We begin to see gaps—in wages, in economic and social opportunities, and in access to leadership and decision-making positions. When people are excluded they are more vulnerable to violence and discrimination. When people do not fall neatly into a predetermined category, there is a risk of their being disregarded entirely.
That is why on this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, our focus must be strongly on inclusion. That means advocating for change in ways that acknowledge the intersections between multiple forms of discrimination. The challenges that LGBTI people continue to face across the world cannot be separated from the struggles that they have to endure also, as indigenous people, as people living in poverty, as people with disabilities, as younger or older people, as people of insecure or undocumented immigration status, as refugees or internally-displaced persons, or as people of colour.
Inclusion means not being bound by binary definitions of gender, but recognizing all forms of gender identity and expression. Transgender people, those with non-binary gender identities and gender non-conforming people must be acknowledged and afforded the same consideration and access to rights as anyone else. Inclusivity is fundamental to our work; and strengthens the collective goals of both the women’s rights and LGBTI rights movements.
For the United Nations, inclusion must start at home, by strengthening recognition and protection for LGBTI staff and their dependents within the UN system. At UN Women, we are working to implement the UN-GLOBE recommendations for ensuring an inclusive workforce for trans and gender non-conforming staff members and stakeholders in the UN system. We are also pressing for the application of these rights across society more broadly, including through the UN’s Free & Equal Campaign, in UN Women’s close partnership with civil society and in our support for movement-building, in order to deepen awareness of the discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI individuals and the steps that we can take to end it.
UN Women calls for an end to exclusion, and demands equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. Today we celebrate diversity, inclusion and intersectionality, so that no one is left behind and every person enjoys the right to live as their true self.