1st UN Public Education Campaign Launched

Free and Equal Worldwide Campaign Promotes Equality for LGBT People

The recent surge in anti-gay violence in Africa as well as Russia has sparked the United Nations’s first global outreach campaign to promote tolerance and greater equality for GLBT people around the world.

Launched on July 26, 2013, the campaign called Free and Equal is aimed at changing public attitudes on issues that have divided the member states of the United Nations. Less than half of the U.N. ‘s 193 member states have documented their support of gay rights or opposition to laws criminalizing homosexuality. Yet, today more than seventy-six countries still criminalize consensual sex. In all areas of the world, violence against LGBT persons has been recorded. However, an increasing number of UN member states as well as UN agencies voiced concern about the recent abuses of LGBT rights.

Details About the Effort

The multi-media campaign to alter existing views will use videos, social media, celebrity appearances, a new website, fact sheets, and celebrity announcements. It is being orchestrated by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that has a mandate to ‘protect and promote all human rights for all human beings’  and is being funded by outside contributors, not the United Nations. To execute the effort, the U.N. will be partnering with The Purpose Foundation that has extensive experience with human rights-related campaigns.

Purpose of the Free and Equal

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, announced the intiative in South Africa, her mother country.  “The 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,” said Pillay. “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.”

Recent Attacks

In the past few weeks, a gay activist in Cameroon was tortured and murdered. Uganda has a “kill the gays” bill, Montenegro’s first pride celebration met with violence, and Putin in Russia approved an anti-gay crackdown that will impose hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about the gay community to minors.  And those are just the highlights!

Dignitaries Back Effort

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leader of the end- the- apartheid movement in South Africa in the 1980s, states that “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven…I am as passionate about this (Free and Equal) campaign as I ever was about apartheid.  For me, it is at the same level.”

Former South African President Nelson Mandela said that ” education is the best weapon against prejudice.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declared “Let me say this loud and clear: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.  They too are born free and equal.  I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in their struggle for human rights.”