As part of our 25th anniversary rebirth, we’ve renamed our monthly “postcard” OutRight Now, reflecting our new organizational name. In case you missed the news, we’ve changed our name to Outright Action International (or “OutRight” for short). We remain as committed as ever to the values we held as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
I write to share my reflections on a remarkable set of statements from a recent United Nations event. They amount to the kind of political speech we believe helps shape public discourse and international standards – for the good of LGBTIQ people globally. They come at a crucial time because of the billions of dollars at stake around the Sustainable Development Goals (more about the SDGs below).
OutRight is a founding member of what’s known as the “LGBT Core Group” at U.N. headquarters, a group of 17 governments, the European Union, two organizations, and the U.N. Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. On September 29, we co-organized a “high level event” – the third in a now annual series.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke from the heart.
“Growing up in the Republic of Korea,” he said, “we didn’t talk about sexual orientation or gender identity. But as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I learned to speak out, because this is a matter of life and death.”
On the same day, 12 U.N. agencies issued an unprecedented joint statement. The first time so many UN agencies ever undertook such a public commitment on LGBTI rights, the statement was a powerful call to action to governments to tackle homophobia and transphobia and to condemn abuses against intersex people.
These proclamations are particularly needed now because last month, governments committed themselves to the SDGs – the global plan running until 2030 for ending poverty, expanding social justice, and strengthening equality. The SDGs are the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals and will ultimately impact countless government policies and programs, amounting to – in case you missed it – billions of dollars.
Yet, the SDGs never explicitly mention LGBTIQ people.
To OutRight, this means that we need insistent, loud declarations from communities and those in power to make abundantly clear that LGBTIQ people are included in every line of the SDGs.
Today, part of what’s giving me hope came in remarks at the event from former Botswana President Festus Mogae, underscoring the global will to fight for LGBTI rights. He commented:
“Africa must begin to break down the barriers that fuel discrimination against all groups, especially LGBT. If we do not act now with purpose, urgency and inclusivity, we risk the dangers of deepening the divisions in our society, of creating divisive and unjust societies, a legacy of hate and fear for future generations of Africa.”
All in all, the day was an inspiring milestone in our efforts to reverse the marginalization of LGBTIQ people and to make human rights not just a priority but a development imperative.
With warm regards,
OutRight Action International