The United Nations has announced an unprecedented effort to help LGBT people around the world: the Free and Equal campaign.
Facing calls from LGBT rights advocates worldwide to intervene in anti-gay violence taking place in various countires, particularly in Russia and Africa where brutal homophobic attacks and murders are protected by law, the UN’s first global education campaign for LGBT rights will focus on legal reforms and education efforts.
Speaking at yesterday’s campaign launch in South Africa, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillary said: ‘Changing attitudes is never easy. But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one.
‘It begins with often difficult conversations. And that is what we want to do with this campaign. Free & Equal’ will inspire millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.’
‘The [U.N.’s] 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,’ Pillay said.
‘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.’
Over the next year, the Free and Equal campaign will be releasing online interviews with LGBT people and other forms of media to spark discussions and debate about how and why lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are targeted in different countries.
The UN’s Free and Equal campaign comes as LGBT rights activists are calling for intervention into the legal attacks on LGBT people, especially in Russia and Zimbabwe.
This week, Gay Star News reported that president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe threatened to cut off the heads of gays and lesbians, adding to the violent anti-gay rhetoric the African leader uses to target the LGBT community in Zimbabwe.
Several activists have also called on the UN to intervene in the wave anti-gay violence in Russia, which most recently includes gay teens being lured on social media by neo-Nazis who kidnap and torture them.
Some activists have taken to the Internet and social media to accuse US president Barack Obama of negligence and hypocrisy with regards to Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Last week, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said he was unaware of public calls for the US to boycott the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He also said he did not have ‘a specific response from [the president] or from the White House’ regarding the issue. Earlier in the press briefing, however, Carney alluded to wanting to maintain the ‘important relationship with Russia’.
‘You’ve got to go economic,’ Fort Lauderdale, Fla., activist Nate Klarfeld, former board chairman of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, told US newspaper The Miami Herald.
‘The Olympics has turned into a business. Billions are paid for sponsorships. If NBC doesn’t cover the Olympics, then Russia loses all its cachet. And when this all started, I said it’s a no-brainer. We should just pour all the Stoli down the sewers.’