Post submitted by David McCabe, HRC Digital Media intern

The human rights office of the United Nations has launched its first campaign to promote tolerance and acceptance of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals around the world. The effort, dubbed Free & Equal, was announced today in South Africa.

The Associated Press reported on the campaign’s strategy:

[Free & Equal] will include videos and public-service announcements distributed through social media, a new website, a series of fact sheets, and engagement by celebrities well-known in different regions of the world.

It is likely the international organization will face strong headwinds in its efforts to make the globe a more open place for LGBT individuals. Less than half of its member states have openly supported LGBT rights. Seventy-six countries around the world still criminalize consensual, same-sex relationships.

It also comes amidst an uptick in violence and discriminatory legislation against LGBT people around the world. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin recently signed a law that activists say will make it impossible to distribute any material related to LGBT issues or for same-sex couples to publically show affection for one another. Montenegro’s first ever pride parade, held this week was disrupted by violence and calls of “kill the gays.”

Still, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supports the campaign and Archbishop Desmond Tutu appeared at the press event announcing its launch. 

"We have to build a society that is accepting and it is not a free society until every single person knows they are acknowledged and accepted for who they are,” Tutu said.

"Can you imagine me having said it's unjust to penalise [sic] something they cannot do anything about, their race or gender, and then to keep quiet when people are hounded, people are killed, because of their sexual orientation?"

Filed under: International

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