"Fighting homophobia and transphobia: our shared responsibility" article by Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay and Philippe Meunier for the Huffington Post (May 17, 2014)


Article for the Huffington Post Written jointly by the French Ambassador for Human Rights and the French Ambassador for the fight against HIV/AIDS and Communicable Diseases

Today, like every 17 May for nearly 10 years, we celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. All too often, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons face discrimination, violence and persecution for who they are or who they love. In 76 countries, homosexuality is considered to be illegal. It is sometimes sanctioned by the law and, in five countries, even punished by the death penalty. Such persecution is intolerable.

In light of these hate crimes and the recent adoption of repressive legislation against LGBTI persons, it is important to recall that nothing can ever explain, legitimize, or justify human rights violations which are universal and apply to all humans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

French diplomacy fully supports the universal decriminalization of homosexuality and protection of the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons. It thus intends to remain a leader in this fight, which it is carrying out within multilateral organizations as well as within the framework of dialogue on human rights in which it is involved with many countries.

The violence inflicted on LGBTI persons often leads to discrimination in prevention and healthcare access, which runs contrary to international human rights. Such situations undermine the effectiveness of our collective action towards global health.

While today’s theme is freedom of expression and information, we must also salute the work of the human rights campaigners who are fighting on a daily basis and sometimes risking their lives so that the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons can be recognized and respected. France will continue to support them, in particular through the International Support Fund which was created five years ago with the Netherlands and Norway. This Fund aims to encourage projects focusing on upholding the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of LGBTI persons.

Finally, we must not forget that the fight against homophobic and transphobic discourse and practices is also taking place in France, where homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1982. This struggle must be carried out in a cross-cutting fashion. In France and everywhere else, it can only be successful by respecting other people and their differences, by tolerance and by raising awareness of equality and the diversity of sexualities and gender identities.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations recalled in December 2012 at an event in support of the fight against homophobia, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration states that, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All human beings – not some, not most, but all."

This is indeed a fight which concerns us all. We must stress this to all those who accuse us of promoting the adoption of specific rights for a single group. The fight against homophobia and transphobia seeks the fulfillment of the universality of human rights, without distinction based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other reason. It is a matter for us all.

Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay
French Ambassador for Human Rights

Philippe Meunier
French Ambassador for the fight against HIV/AIDS and Communicable Diseases