This year’s annual Human Rights Day event focused on “Leadership in the fight against homophobia”. Human rights activists coming from three corners of the world participated in the debate. Blas Radi from Argentina, Olena Scevchenko from Ukraine, and Gift Trapence from Malawi shared gripping stories from their lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Stories about discrimination, violence, abuse, random arrests, and restrictions on their freedom of speech. Olena Scevchenko was recently arrested based on Ukrainian law restricting statements that are so-called “gay propaganda”.
“If Ukrainian law was applicable here at the UN, today’s meeting would be illegal” stated Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his speech. He also underlined his repeated message, that everyone is entitled to the same human rights, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
Deputy Minister Gry Larsen supported the message from the Secretary General “We are gathered here because we believe that human rights are for all. Because we believe that there is no such thing as a second class human rights citizenship.”
Gry Larsen further introduced some of the considerable Norwegian efforts for LGBT rights, and announced the Oslo-conference on human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The conference will take place on 15-16 April 2013. Norway is cooperating with South Africa and Brazil on this. Seminar in the Regions will be organised to support the conference, and at the same time show attentiveness towards countries that find the subject a sensitive one. The Oslo-conference will summarise the experiences from the regions.
Gay advocate Ricky Martin speaking at the event, in the panel with Ban Ki-moon, Yvonne Chaka and human rights activists. Photo: Hansine Korslien