Education International
Education International

Unprecedented joint statement calls for actions to end discrimination

published 7 October 2015 updated 13 October 2015

Twelve United Nations’ agencies joined together in a call to action to end violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex adults, adolescents and children.

The joint UN statement on “Ending Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) People” has been endorsed by the following 12 United Nations (UN) entities: the International Labour Organisation, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Fund for Children, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UN Women, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation.

“This is the first time that so many members of the UN family have joined forces in defence of the basic rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said the UN Human Rights Office’s Chief of Global Issues, Charles Radcliffe. “It is both an expression of commitment on the part of UN agencies, and a powerful call to action for governments around the world to do more to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and abuses against intersex people.”

The statement highlights the link between human rights abuses against LGBTI people and ill health, family break-up, social and economic exclusion and lost opportunities for development and economic growth. Key topics tackled by the statement are: protecting individuals from violence; repealing discriminatory laws; protecting individuals from discrimination; repealing discriminatory laws; and the UN support.

“The joint UN statement sends a timely and important message to governments to end violence and discrimination, including in the education sector. To contribute to quality education for all safer learning and teaching environments require respect for rights and protective laws and policies, which means explicit non-discrimination provisions, guidelines and training for policy makers, administrators, teachers and education personnel,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

This joint UN statement echoes the Education International (EI) PolicyPaper on Human and Trade Union Rights and the EI resolution on LGBTI rights, adopted by the 7th EI World Congress held in July 2015 in Ottawa, Canada.

The Policy Paper, an important document adopted by EI and its affiliate organisations, provides the framework for policy and programmes aimed at enabling conditions for promoting social justice, eradicating poverty and challenging all forms of discrimination including sexual orientation and gender identity.

The EI resolution acknowledges that the trade union movement is “a formidable force for championing LGBTI rights and working in solidarity with the international community”, and schools, colleges and higher education institutions “play a key role in educating their students, staff and communities about gender identity and expression and against homophobia and transphobia”.