To mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on 17 May, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (16 May):
All over the world efforts are currently being made to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire countries are in lockdown to slow down the spread of the virus. It is frequently forgotten that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intergender persons in many parts of the world are often particularly affected by such measures. They have to face stigma and discrimination. They are also more frequently victims of violence.
The international community must fight all forms of violence, discrimination and hatred targeting LGBTI persons and speak out for their rights. In the search for answers to the COVID-19 pandemic, special account must be taken of the impact on LGBTI persons. Let me remind you that human rights, particularly the right to human dignity and equality, apply to everyone universally and at all times. That should not be forgotten even during a global health crisis.
Germany is therefore working through international human rights projects, e.g. to protect homosexual refugees or to support the work of human rights defenders to support the human rights of the LGBTI community. For example, there are still at least 40 countries in which homosexuality is a criminal offence, in some cases punishable with the death penalty. That is unacceptable for us. As is discrimination and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We must therefore continue in future to work for a diverse and tolerant society in Germany, the EU and worldwide. Even in difficult times, we must stand up for equality and the respect of diversity.
The IDAHO human rights organisation declared 17 May as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in 2004. The date was chosen in memory of 17 May 1990, when the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its disease classification list. Germany, like many other countries, officially recognises this day, and tries to use it particularly to raise awareness for the issue.
Engagement for LGBTI rights on the basis of the EU guidelines on protecting the human rights of LGBTI persons is a central element of German human rights policy. In 2019, funding for specific LGBTI projects totalling around 500,000 euros was made available, almost double the previous year’s amount.
Germany is active in the United Nations in the so-called Core Group on LGBTI rights and is a founding member of the Equal Rights Coalition formed in 2016, a group of countries and organisations working for the rights of LGBTI persons worldwide.
In 2016, a resolution of the Human Rights Council for the first time established a United Nations mandate for an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). In July 2019, the Federal Government successfully campaigned for the extension of the mandate, which was approved by a large majority.