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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 23 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 21
U.S., U.N. mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Section One
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U.S., U.N. mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon were among the world leaders who observed the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.

'As we commemorate the 10th annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we recommit ourselves to the fundamental belief that all people should be treated equally, that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and that no one should face violence or discrimination - no matter who they are or whom they love,' Obama said in a statement.

'This year, the United States celebrates the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

'In doing so, we reflect on lessons learned from our own civil rights struggles and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that the human rights of all people are universally protected.

'At a time when, tragically, we are seeing increased efforts to criminalize or oppress LGBT persons, we call on partners everywhere to join us in defending the equal rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters, and in ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.'

In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged to 'protect' LGBT rights 'worldwide.'

'We know that our work is not complete when countries enact laws targeting LGBT persons and their supporters,' Kerry said.

'We know that our work is not complete when LGBT persons and their allies are harassed, arrested, and even killed simply because of who they are and who they love.

'When our LGBT brothers and sisters are threatened anywhere, it is a threat to freedom, justice and dignity of people everywhere.

'The United States will continue to protect and promote the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide this day and every day.

'Onward.'

Neither the President nor the Secretary mentioned ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), which would protect LGBT employees from discrimination on the job. The bill passed the U.S. Senate but is stalled in the House, and Obama has been under pressure from LGBT rights groups to issue an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors.

Vice President Joe Biden said he saw 'no downside' to such an order, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it would be 'redundant.'

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon launched a new video to mark IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia), and said on his blog that all countries should uphold human rights for LGBT people.

'In all parts of the world today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experience discrimination in every aspect of daily life,' Ban wrote.

'As children, too many are bullied by their peers, rejected by their own families, driven to drop out of school.

'As adults, too many suffer stigma, unfair treatment, even violence.

'In 76 countries, having a partner of the same sex is even a prosecutable crime. People are arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases executed, just because they are in a loving relationship.

'As Secretary-General of the U.N., I believe in and strive to achieve the world promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a world rooted in tolerance, freedom and equality; a world where we are ALL free to live a life of dignity.

'There are no exceptions. Human rights are for everyone, no matter who you are or whom you love.

'Changing people's attitudes takes time, effort and perseverance.

'It takes us all to speak up and speak out against homophobia, even when it's presented as harmless fun or as an accepted cultural trait. It's not. It's discrimination.

'And it's our responsibility to fight it and to strive for a world that is truly free and equal.'

Among other leaders who marked the day, the newly-elected President of Costa Rica flew the rainbow flag over his official residence in the capital, San Jose. Luis Guillermo Solis has been president only since May 8, representing the center-left Citizens Action Party.

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