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2014: A Big Year for UU-UNO's Work on LGBT Human Rights

My name is Raymond Firmalino and I am one of the UU-UNO's LGBT Program interns. As part of our blog series on International Human Rights Day, I on behalf of the  UU-UNO will highlight our work this year on one of the most pressing issues of our time: the plight of lesbian, gay, lesbian, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The current situation is dire. Many LGBT people around the world endure brutal acts of violence; are denied opportunities to work, learn and receive healthcare; and must flee their countries--all because of who they are. In some 80 countries it is illegal to be gay or to be suspected of it. Consequently, many LGBT people are excluded from the full measure of human rights.

We raised this issue repeatedly at the United Nations. This past summer, the UU-UNO participated in the UN Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, a policy process in which member states, major groups and civil society developed international development goals for 2015 and beyond. The UU-UNO proposed policies that promote and protect LGBT human rights, and was the only NGO at the UN's proceedings to do so.

To raise awareness of the issues at hand, we drafted a speech which UU-UNO director Bruce Knotts gave at the UN's ECOSOC Chamber. The speech was  published on the UN website, which can be viewed here; it starts at 38:15. We then drafted another call to action, which was signed by our international partners and  disseminated at the 65th Annual UN Department of Public Information/NGO Conference. Our advocacy continues to amass a coalition of supporters who, with the UU-UNO, affirm  that everyone everywhere deserves human rights.

In June, the U.S. State Department invited  Bruce to provide policy recommendations at the White House Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights. Our recommendations ranged from streamlining U.S. official processing of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers to ensuring adequate healthcare to LGBT AIDS victims in Uganda.

Recently, we submitted a report to the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which it solicited, on best practices to overcome violence and discrimination against LGBT people. In addition to our recommendations, we included the expertise of one of our international partners also doing good work. We anticipate that the UN will publish our inputs for human rights advocates, defenders and policy makers to utilize. These are just a few of the UU-UNO's accomplishments this year.

The UU-UNO will continue fighting for justice and equality in 2015, as we appeal directly to select Member States of the Human Rights Council, the UN's principal human rights policy-making organ. These are States whose opinions we believe, are amenable to open dialogue. Since they have significant influence over policy that affects the everyday lives of LGBT people around the world, there is tremendous opportunity for progress.

We will continue making the case that governments have a legal obligation to protect the rights of all people, regardless of nationality, religion, tribe, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, age, or other status. By spreading our mantra of compassion coupled with accountability, we will help achieve a more just world. Our work is not complete until all people everywhere enjoy fully, the freedom to be who they are, and live lives of dignity and respect.

To support our continued access to the highest levels of the United Nations and to the Canadian and American governments, please donate generously to the UU-UNO.

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