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Statement by Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB)

17.05.2018 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) on 17 May:     

For the Federal Government, it is important that it works for a society that welcomes, respects and accepts sexual and gender diversity – in Germany and around the world.

I am pleased that, by opening marriage to same-sex couples on 30 June 2017, we were able to take a significant step forward. The German Government has for several years been systematically addressing the issue of gender diversity, and in particular the situation of transsexuals and intersexuals. The National Action Plan against Racism, which was readopted in June 2017, was extended to encompass the subjects of homophobia and transphobia.

At international level as well, Germany is campaigning for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people (LGBTI). For example, the Federal Foreign Office is funding human rights projects that strengthen the rights of LGBTI people.

Considering that we are currently marking the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), I believe it is important to emphasise that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Article 1 of the UDHR). By working for progress on the issues that concern LGBTI people, we are not standing up for  “special rights” – because these efforts focus on, for example, promoting non-discrimination and the right to freedom of opinion and of assembly, as well as the right to freedom from bodily harm.

Unfortunately, many LGBTI people experience hostility, hate speech and even psychological and physical violence on a daily basis. In some countries, they are even in danger of being subjected to arrest, torture or the death penalty.

I want to use today to thank all those who support tolerance and non-discrimination. Your work is important. Let’s pool our efforts to advance diversity, respect and tolerance.

Background information:

The IDAHOTB human rights organisation has declared 17 May as the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Germany is one of many countries that officially observe this day and use it to raise awareness for this issue, through press statements and various events. Germany remains engaged in the so-called United Nations LGBTI Core Group. In 2016, Germany voted in favour of establishing an Independent UN Expert for LGBTI persons who is charged with working for international protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

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