Monday, December 14, 2015

UN Fighting to make LGBT people Free & Equal

Free & Equal is a United Nations Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality, and an initiative of the UN Human Rights Office. The UN recognises how destructive discrimination against LGBT people is, and they’re working to end it.

Here are some recent videos from that campaign.

The video above, “The Price of Exclusion” is the latest from the Free & Equal campaign, and exposes just how much exclusion of LGBT people really costs. It’s a lot more than most people could guess.

Narrated by actor Zachary Quinto, who is openly gay, the video uses a simple animated technique for data visualisation. I think it works very well. The video is summed up in its YouTube description:

Rates of poverty, homelessness, depression and suicide have been found to be far higher among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people than in the general population. But it’s not just LGBT people who pay the price. We all do. Every LGBT child thrown out of home and forced to miss out on education is a loss for society. Every LGBT worker denied their rights is a lost opportunity to build a fairer and more productive economy.

These losses are entirely self-inflicted. With different laws and policies in place and a different mind-set, we could and would achieve a more free and equal world—that is more prosperous too!
The next video, “Voices from the Front Lines”, was posted a couple months ago. It depicts testimonies from survivors of homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence that were shown to world leaders during the UN General Assembly. It was at an event on the importance of not leaving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people behind when the Sustainable Development Goals are being implemented.

Also from September is “The UN and the Fight against Homophobia & Transphobia”, which explains why the United Nations has this campaign, and some of the recent highlights.

The next video, “Faces”, is from May, and was mentioned in the video above. The YouTube description again sums it up well:

"Lesbian", "gay", "bisexual", "transgender", "intersex", "queer": can you see past the labels?

This video from the United Nations Free & Equal campaign celebrates the contributions that millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people make to families and local communities around the world. The cast features "real people" (not actors), filmed in their workplaces and homes—among them, a firefighter, a police officer, a teacher, an electrician, a doctor and a volunteer, as well as prominent straight ally and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The point is to encourage people to look beyond labels, and to be an ally. But it also shows the sort of ordinary people who they’re talking about in the video up top.

Finally, something a little lighter, from September 2014: “Selfies for Equality.” Free & Equal operated a photo booth as world leaders, activists and others arrived at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for the opening of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly. And, yes, I’m aware that these aren’t actually selfies, but I don’t think that matters.

I know that many people are cynical nowadays, and some can’t see what the point of all this is. For one thing, we live in an era of images, short video images in particular, and videos like these can help reach people in ways that nothing else can.

But, what if they don’t help much at all? Well, so what?! It’s important to fight to end discrimination against LGBTI people, and the United Nations definitely has a role to play.

The battle has a long way to go, of course, but it’s important work, and I’m glad the UN is engaged.

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