UN Women Executive Director Statement on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.


Today marks the 25th anniversary of recognition by the international community that homosexuality cannot be classified as an illness. We celebrate that critical decision by the World Health Organization as the initial step on a new path to ending the criminalization of sexual orientation and the discrimination that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people experience around the world.  

While there have been advances in the struggle for equality for the LGBTI community, homophobia and transphobia are still deeply rooted. The 20-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action reveals persisting challenges women face on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, resulting in exclusion from social services, and decision-making.

As UN Women works every day to fulfil its global mandate on gender equality, it confirms its unfaltering commitment to the human rights of the LGBTI community. Also, we recognize that the violation of the rights of women based on sexual orientation and gender identity undermine gender equality. Therefore, addressing and ending such violations is an essential part of the struggle for gender equality.

We must confront discriminatory social norms in domestic and community spheres as well as transform the structures that constrain sexual minorities’ voice and agency at the political and structural level.

UN Women’s partnerships with civil society organizations and governments have also been invaluable. We have focused on capacity development, advocacy and legislative reform efforts at the national level. For instance in 2014, in Kyrgyzstan, we supported the Orange March in support of LGBTIs; in South Africa, we have supported high-level advocacy work on preventing discrimination and violence against LGBTI women with disabilities in the context of HIV and AIDS. In Mexico, we have supported the participation of our civil society partners’ landmark regional and global meetings of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

UN Women is committed to continue working closely through and with inter-agency mechanisms at global, regional and national levels through UN country teams. 

The assault on LGBTI rights is an assault on freedoms everywhere. As a global community, we stand by the commitment of the United Nations to work towards a world free of discrimination and violence for all people.