To freely choose whom we love. To live in the right body. To openly be who we are.
These are deeply human desires – and human rights. Rights that we wish for our children, our siblings, our friends. But also rights denied to too many LGBTIQ persons around the world:
Over 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality. In eleven states, you even face the death penalty for it. And in many places, LBGTIQ persons suffer everyday discrimination, making their lives hell.
In my country, in Germany, we have gone a long way – but much remains to be done: One in three LGBTIQ persons in Germany says they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. And every year, our police record hundreds of hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
All this is unacceptable. We have to stand up for LGBTIQ rights – at home and around the world. That is why Germany is taking over the co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition – together with our Mexican friends.
As co-chair, our fight for equal rights will begin where it should: at home.
The German Government is preparing a National Action Plan to advance non-discrimination in all areas of life, including schools and the workplace. As part of this effort, we have created the new office of a Commissioner for the Acceptance of Sexual and Gender Diversity.
We are also bringing our laws up to date: We are advancing legislation allowing transgender, intersex and non-binary persons to change their gender registration and names without a doctor’s certificate – a step that is long overdue! And we plan to enshrine protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the German constitution.
At the same time, as ERC co-chair, we will also scale up our international efforts for equal rights. This is part of our feminist foreign policy – a policy seeking to empower all people – regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation.
In the ERC, we fully commit to the Coalition’s Strategy and the current Implementation Plan: We will work towards ending laws and policies discriminating against LGBTIQ persons – and towards better protecting them against violence.
To strengthen the ERC, we are making available 800,000 euro for the Coalition’s next biannual conference, a new General Secretariat and the German civil society co-chair, the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany.
To Germany, the ERC is a forum where governments and civil society work hand in hand – and which does not shy away from taking clear positions.
I would like to thank Argentina, the United Kingdom and their civil society partners for their excellent work as co-chairs over the last year. As new co-chairs, Germany and Mexico can build on your achievements:
By advancing LGBTIQ rights worldwide. By speaking up against violence and discrimination. And by supporting LGBTIQ persons in their quest for what we all desire: The right to love, to live our own life – and to simply be who we are.