After the United Nations assembled their first ministerial meeting on LGBT issues on September 26 in New York, the UN’s public information campaign on LGBT equality called Free and Equal released a video on September 30 highlighting the historical importance of that meeting.
“When the United Nations was formed the founders declared this purpose: to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry in the video. “We really do send a clear and compelling message by coming together today. And it is not just in support of gays and lesbians around the world, it is really in support of the founding values of this institution.”
The ministers talked about implementing public education campaigns for LGBT protection in combating homophobia and transphobia.
“When I became high commissioner for human rights five years ago, there was almost no discussion at the United Nations on the human rights challenges faced by lesbian gay transgender and intersex people,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in the video. “That is no longer the case. I want to commend you, members of the core group for the part you are playing in bringing apart a new era of openness and dialogue.”
The meeting had 11 countries convene with representatives hailing from Brazil, Croatia, Holland, Norway, Argentina, the European Union, France, Japan, New Zealand as well as LGBT advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
“Unfortunately, no country can claim to be free from the scourge of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression – my country is no exception,” said Brazilian foreign minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo in the video.
76 countries still outlaw LGBT relationships with widespread homophobia present in areas like education, work and health. Many of the regressive laws are instituted in Russia as well as African and Eastern European countries.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide acknowledged that “counter forces” are also gathering strength, which has become necessary to “redouble [the UN’s]efforts to make clear that all human rights apply to all people and is an important issue for the United Nations.”
“I believe we are here today on a ministerial level. We simply want to bring the situation everywhere in the world,” said Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans in the video.
“People who are gay are treated the same way as other people. People who are gay are no longer subject to violence and discrimination. That is our common goal.”
Countries who were not present at the meeting were Canada and Russia. Russia claims to have no prior knowledge of the meeting.
Gambia president Yahya Jammah condemned homosexuality as one of the “biggest threats to human existence” on Friday at the UN General Assembly.