Statement on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

by UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka [17 May 2016]


This year’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is the first in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda’s emphasis on universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination, sets common goals to achieve a world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality, all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed, and ‘no one is left behind’.

In order to make sure no one is left behind we must make sure no one is left out. Those who are furthest behind, most vulnerable and least supported are our priority. Action to end discrimination and exclusion on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is therefore a natural aspect of planning to implement the Agenda, as homophobia and transphobia remain deeply rooted resulting in violence and exclusion from social services and decision-making.

The 20th anniversary review and appraisal of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action revealed some advances for the LGBTI community but important persisting challenges faced by women on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. There are still 76 countries that criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships. In addition, data from UN Women’s Global Gender Equality Constitutional Database show that 16 constitutions include specific provisions on sexual orientation and gender identity, of which seven contain discriminatory language.

UN Women condemns the widespread forms of discrimination, exclusion and violence against the LGBTI community across the world. We call for the protection of individuals from discrimination and violence, for the repeal of discriminatory laws, and for individuals’ rights to be addressed as an integral part of the path forward to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Civil society is a critical partner in advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community, for example through research activities, promotion of legislative reform, capacity development and advocacy activities in countries. In just a few examples of this: in Ecuador, UN Women works with a diverse 11-member Civil Society Advisory Group which includes feminists with backgrounds spanning LGBTI, youth, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and with afro-descendant ancestry, offering a broad range of experience in leadership, political engagement, economic empowerment and eradication of violence. In the Asia Pacific Region, UN Women is undertaking field research in five countries with Outright Action International, on violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This will result in advocacy strategies to strengthen protection against domestic violence and family violence.

UN Women is solidly behind this cause. We will continue to work with Member States, Civil Society Organizations and the UN system to address every form of gender-based discrimination, including against the LGBTI community, in the search for an equal and tolerant society–a Planet 50-50 by 2030.