On this year's International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, let’s all reiterate our collective and individual commitment to a more inclusive world where everyone has the right to advance their personal development without any form of discrimination.
From exclusion in the workplace, to criminalization of their sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTI people still face intolerance that threatens not only their development but also their dignity and, sadly, even their lives.
Seventy two countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, 26 include penalties ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, seven include the death penalty for those who engage in same-sex acts. In many countries, the so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTI people is still legal. We cannot remain silent about such injustices committed against LGBTI groups, and we must raise our voices to foster greater inclusion and respect for human rights everywhere.
Through the 2030 Agenda and the promise of leaving no one behind, UNDP works with governments and partners to address inequalities experienced by LGBTI people around the world, particularly supporting efforts to strengthen laws, policies, and programmes that respect human rights.
With the regional programme “Being LGBTI in Asia and the Pacific,” UNDP, in partnership with governments, civil society, regional institutions, and others, is advancing the social inclusion of LGBTI people in the Asia and Pacific region, and is promoting universal access to health and social services. In the Caribbean, the project “Being LGBTI in the Caribbean”, aims at enhancing knowledge, partnerships, and the capacities of civil society and governments to reduce human rights violations towards LGBTI people.
With the purpose of increasing visibility of the challenges LGBTI people face and improve the policies and programmes designed for better inclusion, UNDP together with the World Bank just launched in March 2019 the LGBTI Inclusion Index. This measures development outcomes for LGBTI people and informs policies and investments that strengthen LGBTI inclusion and rights.
Equally important to all the work UNDP is doing to advance inclusion and respect for human rights with governments and counterparts, is what the organization is doing in-house. Ten years ago, in El Salvador, I found in UNDP my ‘haven as a gay young man, often discriminated in previous professional experiences. I am glad to see UNDP continues promoting diversity as one of its core values, fostering a workplace free of stigma and discrimination for those, like me 10 years ago, who are looking for a professional development that respects their dignity as individuals.
Jointly with UN-GLOBE, UNDP is ensuring that LGBTI colleagues’ voices are heard in decisive corporate spaces and initiatives. As UN-GLOBE Coordinator for UNDP, I am part of the UNDP Task Force on Prevention Sexual Harassment (SH) and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), ensuring there are adequate support mechanisms available for the LGBTI staff that might be victims of these misconducts, as well as to ensure awareness on SH and SEA among LGBTI colleagues.
In UN-GLOBE we advocate for the equality and inclusion of all staff, including LGBTI staff, at all levels of the UN. We are also available as alternative mechanism support for all LGBTI colleagues, whenever our assistance is needed.
On this International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, I invite everyone to stand up for human rights and become an LGBTI ally and a champion for diversity. Today and always, let’s celebrate love, diversity, and inclusion, here in UNDP and everywhere.