As people across the planet celebrate Pride Month this June, we’re helping partners join the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) human rights by supporting Free & Equal, a global United Nations campaign to eliminate violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community.
Launched and led by the UN Human Rights Office, the Free & Equal campaign has become one of the UN’s most powerful tools in the fight against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and interphobia. At its core, Free & Equal aims to cultivate awareness and allies in the struggle for equality and human rights for all.
This means reaching out to key demographics that can be leading changemakers in their communities, including parents, students, teachers, and journalists. In Albania, Cabo Verde, Haiti, and Panama, for example, support from Free & Equal helped train reporters to ensure that LGBTI individuals and issues receive fair and ethical media coverage that’s free from harmful stereotypes and slurs. To date, the campaign has reached nearly 2 billion people through social media and led to national spin-off campaigns and events in more than 30 countries worldwide.
Partnering for Pride
The United Nations Foundation has been a proud supporter of the Free & Equal campaign since its founding in 2013. Together with the UN, we have built support and spread the message that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights — a principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and one that the UN and its agencies strive to uphold every day.
We’re joined in this effort by major U.S. companies like Gap Inc., H&M, and Kenneth Cole, which have amplified the Free & Equal message by enlisting the help of employees and consumers alike.
Gap Inc. has donated part of its proceeds from the company’s Pride clothing collection and invited UN and UN Foundation employees to march alongside its staff during Pride marches in cities across the globe. This year’s partnership coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York — a pivotal moment in the movement for LGBTI equality — as well as Gap Inc.’s 50th anniversary of their first store opening in San Francisco.
In addition to donating to the UN Foundation in support of Free & Equal this year and launching a Pride collection marking the occasion of “World Pride” in New York City, Kenneth Cole continued its ongoing collaboration with the Tony-nominated Broadway musical comedy, The Prom, by working with cast members to create a short film celebrating Stonewall’s anniversary. Last year, the company designed and sold t-shirts with the slogan “Today is Not a Dress Rehearsal” for a special performance of the musical — including UN diplomats and officials from the UN Human Rights Office — with proceeds benefiting the Free & Equal campaign.
H&M is another partner backing the efforts of Free & Equal. With the Emmy-nominated actress and Emmy-winning producer Laverne Cox as the face of its new collection, H&M is celebrating Pride month with its new “Stay True Stay You” collection with 10% of sales going toward the campaign.
Standing In Solidarity
Over the past three decades, incredible strides have been made in protecting LGBTI rights worldwide, with nearly 50 countries decriminalizing same-sex love. In the past 15 years, nearly 30 countries have introduced marriage equality.
Yet more than 70 countries — one-third of the planet’s nations — still criminalize same-sex relationships among consenting adults. In eight countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. Most countries still do not offer protection under national law against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTI people continue to face a heightened risk of hate-motivated violence and harassment. Meanwhile, LGBTI youth are far more likely to be bullied, drop out of school, and experience feelings of isolation and depression.
This sobering reality reflects an urgent truth: Everyone, everywhere must stand up for equal rights for all. From everyday people to world leaders to major companies, we all have a part to play. As our partner and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Kenneth Cole reminds us: This is not a dress rehearsal.
This month, follow as we share #30DaysOfPride stories to help advance LGBTI+ equality and shine a light on how the UN and our partners are working for the rights of LGBTI+ people across the planet.
Learn how you can join the movement by standing up and taking action.