UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling for people everywhere to support the right to live free and equal, in line with his message for the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, observed on Sunday.

Shout out in the Favela da Maré, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The t-shirt reads ‘Amarégay” — a pun using the name of the favela, meaning both ‘to love is gay’ and ‘Maré is gay’. Photo: Matheus Affonso

The commemoration comes as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic which has increased the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

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Already facing bias, attacks and murder simply for who they are or whom they love, many LGBTI people are experiencing heightened stigma as a result of the virus, as well as new obstacles when seeking health care,” said. Mr. Guterres.

“There are also reports of COVID-19 directives being misused by police to target LGBTI individuals and organizations.”

In fact, the crisis has made things worse for LGBTI people, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

“LGBTI people are often exposed to additional stigma, discrimination and violence, including when seeking medical services – and perhaps saddest of all, within their own families during lock-downs. They are also in some places being treated as scapegoats for the spread of the virus,” she said.

Referencing the theme for the international day, Ms. Bachelet urged everyone to stand up against hate and ‘break the silence’ surrounding the discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTI people.

“Let us counter the homophobic, transphobic and biphobic attitudes and narratives that have such a devastating impact on the lives of so many human beings worldwide,” she added..

The Secretary-General emphasized that as the pandemic unfolds, the UN will continue to highlight injustices against LGBTI people, as well as other injustices.

Said Mr. Guterres: “Together, let us stand united against discrimination and for the right of all to live free and equal in dignity and rights.”

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