The United Nations Free & Equal campaign, the UN’s first-ever campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, released the first in a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) featuring celebrities and activists talking about the challenges facing LGBT and intersex people around the world.
In the new PSA, Jason Collins, the first openly-gay NBA player, talks about the criminalization of LGBT people around the world. In some 77 countries, the criminal law is used to punish people for consensual same-sex conduct – in many of these transgender persons are also targeted using laws banning cross dressing.
“It’s absolutely insane to criminalize someone for being who they are in regards to sexual orientation, or gender identity. It’s on the same level for me as discriminating against someone because of race. So for me it’s very important to come to the United Nations and take part in something that’s going to lead where all of us can be free and equal,” Collins said in the PSA.
Commenting on the announcement, Charles Radcliffe of the UN human rights office said: “Ban Ki-moon recently described sports stars who speak out against discrimination as ‘heroes to the United Nations’. Well, Jason is just such a hero. His decision to talk publicly about being gay sends a powerful, positive message to sport fans and people around the world – including many young people coming to terms with their own sexuality. We are thrilled to have his support for the UN’s Free & Equal campaign.”
Over the course of the coming weeks, Free & Equal will release additional PSAs in support of the rights of LGBT and intersex people from athletes, celebrities and human rights activists including tennis legend Martina Navratilova, Bollywood actors Imran Khan and Celina Jaitly, and intersex rights activist Hida Viloria.
Free & Equal aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and encourage greater respect for the rights of LGBT people everywhere.