NEW YORK: Amid a surge of anti-gay violence and repression in several countries, the United Nations’ human rights office on Friday launched its first global outreach campaign to promote tolerance and greater equality for lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals.
Called Free & Equal, it’s an unprecedented effort by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to change public attitudes around the world on issues that have bitterly divided the U.N.’s own member states.
The multipronged campaign — announced at a news conference in Cape Town, South Africa — will include videos and public-service announcements distributed through social media, a new website, a series of fact sheets, and engagement by celebrities well-known in different regions of the world.
“Changing attitudes is never easy ... It begins with often difficult conversations,” said Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights.
“And that is what we want to do with this campaign. Free & Equal will inspire millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.”
Pillay hails from South Africa, a leading nation on a continent where discrimination and violence against LGBT people is widespread.
The awareness campaign will extend worldwide, reflecting challenges faced by gays in many countries.