Mumbai, India

30 April 2014

Secretary-General's message on the occasion of the launch in India of the United Nations Free & Equal Campaign [delivered by Mr. Charles Radcliffe, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights]

I am pleased to offer my warmest congratulations to all those participating in the launch of the United Nations Free & Equal campaign in India.

I am honoured by the presence of leading stars of Indian cinema and influential Indian human rights activists who have come today to help us unveil the first ever United Nations Bollywood-style music video, which we hope will carry a message of equality to millions of people.

I sincerely thank the star of our new video, our Equality Champion, Celina Jaitly, for her dedicated service to the United Nations and her enormous contribution to our common cause. I am also grateful to the renowned actor Imran Khan, a leading figure in Indian cinema, for lending his support to Free & Equal. And I especially thank the activists present for standing up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across India. I applaud and support all of you on behalf of the entire United Nations.

I am a staunch advocate of the Free & Equal campaign because I refuse to stand silent in the face of prejudice against LGBT members of our human family. Stigma and intolerance force millions to live in fear, shame and hiding. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I appeal for an end to the discrimination, abuse and violent attacks that characterize this deplorable human tragedy.

The Free & Equal campaign provides an opportunity for all of us – leaders, artists, journalists, activists, teachers, parents and every individual of conscience – to take an active stand against this prejudice and support our LGBT colleagues, neighbours, friends and family members.

Everywhere I go, I have called for the immediate repeal of all laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships. These laws violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Whether enforced or not, they actively encourage intolerant attitudes -- giving homophobia a State seal of approval.

Today the United Nations and our partners issue a call to action: For an end to criminalization, for effective legal protection against discrimination, and for all members of our human family to be treated with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve.

Realizing these goals will benefit affected individuals today – and create a more just, stable and hopeful world for generations to come.