We want to pass on this exciting message sent to our office from Charles Radcliffe of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The term SOGI stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and is the all-encompassing term used at the UN when discussing issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

 

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to bring to everyone’s attention the latest remarks of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on SOGI-related matters, delivered at the end of a speech at Columbia University in New York earlier this week on the topic of “youth” (see extract below). The full transcript can be found here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=1498

The Secretary-General’s comments follow the strong statement he sent to the Human Rights Council last month (and which was recently re-mixed into a danceable YouTube hit — thanks to our friends at All Out!). For those that have not yet seen that statement, it is available on YouTube in its original, official format here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtxU9iOx348

The remix is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUizJUQIbq4

Best,

Charles

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    U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                                N A T I O N S   U N I E S

 THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

I have spoken today about youth because I believe we can change what is often called a ‘population explosion’ into a global transformation.But let me say a word to the elders in the room. After all, I am one of you.

It is fashionable to say, “Youth is a state of mind.”

People like this expression because it implies that we can always be young.

It is a kind of consolation.

But I would frame it differently. “Youth is a state of mind,” is not a consolation – it is a challenge.

Youth are idealistic and brave. They do not cower to authority.

I am not young. But I recently had the chance to speak about an issue where too many people have been silent:

The terrible violence and discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Last month, we had the first ever formal UN debate on this issue.

Like many people of my generation, I did not grow up talking about sexual orientation – but I learned to speak out because lives are at stake.

Delegates from some 50 countries walked out in protest. They did not want the Council to even discuss the issue.

But my message to them is up on YouTube, and I hope they hear it.

After I spoke up for my beliefs, I received great praise from some and brutal criticism from others.

But my response to both was the same: human rights are human rights.

I am not in this job just for the easy issues where everyone already agrees.

My point is we can all be young in our attitude. The determination to right wrongs that drives young people can motivate all of us.

 

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Holly Sarkissian

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