International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

17 May 2013

Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

I am pleased to be here today with Deputy Minister Ms. Zere from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, as well as with my colleagues Ambassador Mr. Martin de la Beij and Chargé d´Affaires Mr Patrick Svensson representing the Netherlands and Sweden. Both countries are long term partners of the UN. I am also pleased to be here with representatives of  civil society organizations and media.

As you already know, today is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Twenty-one years ago on this day homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization.  This victory was a historic step towards recognizing fundamental basic human rights of people belonging to the LGBT community.

In Albania, we are very pleased to see a full week of activities during the ”Week of Diversity”  which I hope have served to advocate for the end of discrimination towards LGBT communities.

For generations, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all countries of the world have been subjected to terrible violence on account of their sexual orientation and gender identity. They have been treated with contempt, derision and discrimination.

They are discriminated against in the labour market, in schools and in healthcare, and are even abused and disowned by their own families. They have been made to feel anything but free and equal. Such inequalities impede development progress for societies as a whole.

To combat and break the cycle of fear and violence, efforts should be made to improve education, public awareness and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate.

United Nations Agencies in Albania have been supporting the government and public oversight institutions to improve their capacities in addressing discrimination against individuals of this group. Furthermore, the UN’s assistance has gone towards supporting authorities and civil society to raise public awareness on human rights violations, with a view to promote respect, tolerance and diversity as values of society and humanity.  

LGBT rights are human rights and they are made to be respected. The UN Secretary General in his statement of today said: “The fight against homophobia is a core part of the broader battle for human rights for all. It sits alongside the long-standing work of the United Nations to eliminate racism and promote gender equality.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world that is free and equal, and we will only honour that promise if everyone – without exception – enjoys the protection they deserve”.

I am available for any questions.

Thank you.