[delivered in Kathmandu on 22 March by Mr. Nikolaus Schultz, Human Rights officer, OHCHR, New York. This message will also be delivered in Paris on 26 March by Ms. Mona Rishmawi, Chief, Non-discrimination, Equality and Rule of Law Branch, OHCHR, Geneva, and in Brasilia on 5 April by Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, OHCHR Regional Representative for South America]
I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at this important meeting. In recent years, I have sounded the alarm about the prevalence and gravity of homophobic violence and discrimination. We should all be outraged when members of our human family are verbally abused, physically assaulted, arrested, imprisoned and sometimes killed simply because of who they love or how they look.
Even preadolescent boys and girls are subjected to horrendous bullying and violence based on presumed sexual orientation and gender identity. Some of these promising young people become so desperate they take their own lives. Such intimidation is a public health menace and a collective disgrace.
For millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, discrimination is a daily reality in their families, at their jobs or in accessing healthcare and other essential services. We must right these wrongs.
Attitudes towards same-sex relationships and gender may have many different roots – but none can excuse violence, abuse or the denial of universal human rights.
Far too many people and Governments still refuse to acknowledge the injustice of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the hardship it causes. That is why we must continue to bring these matters to the attention of States, which have a legal duty to protect the rights of everyone without distinction. This requires systematic monitoring and reporting of abuses to ensure that further discussion is informed by the facts.
I have been raising these issues in both public remarks and private talks with senior government officials. I am committed to continuing to lead this global campaign, in partnership with the United Nations Human Rights office. I count on others to join us. Together, we can generate further progress in tackling what has been, until now, a severe and long-neglected human rights challenge.
I wish you great success and look forward to follow-up discussions at the United Nations as part of our committed drive to ensure dignity, equality and justice for all.