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Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia


“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks to the universality of human rights. Everyone, everywhere, is entitled to them, without distinction or discrimination of any kind.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people are counted among the most vulnerable and marginalized in many societies, experiencing discrimination that negatively impacts all aspects of their lives.  Right now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQI people are among those at heightened risk.

UNFPA is committed to ensuring that LGBTQI people do not face discrimination or fear retribution for seeking health care amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

As health systems and services come under immense pressure around the world, this has an enormous effect on already marginalized and excluded groups. In countries where same-sex relations are criminalized or transgender people targeted, people may avoid testing and treatment for fear of arrest or violence.

Given stay-at-home restrictions in many places, LGBTQI youth and adults may be confined in hostile environments with unsupportive family members or co-habitants, increasing their exposure to violence, anxiety, fear and depression.

On this 30th anniversary of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, UNFPA emphasizes the importance of breaking the silence.

No one should suffer stigma or discrimination at work. Creating a safe workplace where each person feels included and valued can unlock the incredible potential of each one of us. UNFPA will continue to uphold these essential values with our staff, fellow colleagues, implementing partners and the people we serve. Our UNFPA Global Directory, for example, now offers profile options to more accurately and respectfully reflect the gender diversity of our staff, some of whom identify as neither female nor male.

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is committed to addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics. Together, let us promote a society free from all forms of discrimination and harassment to ensure that everyone, everywhere is able to live and work in safety and dignity.