UNDP and UNESCO celebrate International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in Beijing

May 15, 2015

Participants at today's event (Photo: UNDP China)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today welcomed experts, educators, students and LGBTQI people at an event to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).

Linking to this year’s IDAHOT theme of ‘Stand with LGBTQI Youth for Visibility, Respect and Equality’, the event discussed the challenges faced by sexual and gender minority youth in China and explored possible solutions. A presentation of findings from research into homophobic bullying in schools by Wei Chongzheng and Dr Liu Wenli from Beijing Normal University was followed by a panel discussion on approaches to tackle discrimination and violence against LGBTQI youth.

In his opening remarks, UNDP Deputy Country Director Patrick Haverman called on those in attendance to continue their support for LGBTQI people. He explained: ‘we at UNDP believe that the aspirations of millions of LGBT people can add to the diversity and dynamism of China in its rapid transition towards a socially and economically sustainable and inclusive society.’

The event also saw the launch of the new video and theme for the United Nations ‘Free and Equal’ campaign, which aims to mobilise UN member states to protect sexual and gender minorities worldwide. Featuring a selection of ‘real people’ including fire-fighters, journalists, police officers and doctors as well as UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon, the video encourages its audience to look beyond labels and celebrate individuals for who they are, and the contributions they make to families and local communities around the world. You can see the video on the right of this page, or on Youku here.

 Wei Chongzheng and Liu Wenli from Beijing Normal University deliver their presentation (Photo: UNDP China)

The Administrator of UNDP Helen Clark has also released a statement to observe the day, in which she reiterated that ‘LGBTQI people, like all human beings, have the right to live their lives free from fear, violence, discrimination, persecution, and inequality. Sustainable development requires full participation by everyone.’   

UNDP China Policy Specialist Andrea Pastorelli was pleased with the discussions that took place. In closing the event he praised participants’ inputs, saying that ‘in order to transform China into a more inclusive society we need new leadership in all sectors, including education. We now know that, if supported, educators can act as the primary agents of change.’ He also revealed that UNDP and UNESCO will organise a national consultation later in 2015 to find practical ways to support change within the education sector in China.

IDAHOT was created to draw the attention of policymakers, academics and the media to the discrimination experienced by LGBTQI people internationally, and to commemorate the 1990 World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. The UN continues to work towards a world free of discrimination based on sexual and gender diversity.

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