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High Level Meeting on LGBTQ Rights at United Nations

Earlier this week, HRC Global and HRC Board Member Paul Boskind attended the highest-level meeting on LGBTQ rights ever to be held at the United Nations (U.N.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addressed world leaders at the U.N.’s LGBT Core Group event entitled, “#Path2Equality: Global leaders discuss progress towards LGBT equality,” at U.N. Headquarters in New York City.

During the event, Ban highlighted the advancements the U.N. has made since his appointment as Secretary-General, including the launch of U.N. Free and Equal and the Human Rights Council’s recent vote to create the first-ever position of a U.N. Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Following Ban’s address, Vice President Biden spoke about the current status of LGBTQ rights in the U.S. He noted that in over thirty states, it is still possible to get married in the morning and then be fired the same day just because of who you are or who you love. After quoting “that all men are created equal” from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Biden went on to add that “discrimination against anyone for their sexual orientation or gender is anathema to our most basic values.”

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg also spoke about LGBTQ equality in their countries and the next steps for equality. President Bachelet promised to send a marriage equality bill to the Chilean Congress within the first half of 2017, while Prime Minister Solberg focused on the important and necessary work to change public attitudes toward the LGBTQ community in her country.

Perhaps the most moving address of the event came from Caleb Orozco of Belize, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that ultimately led to decriminalization of same-sex activity in Belizesetting a historic precedent in the Caribbean region. Orozco shared his personal journey as the face of the movement in Belize and the leader of the nation’s only LGBT organization, UNIBAM. Orozco has lived in isolation for years, facing deadly violence and backlash for his outspoken activism. He described how the public has adopted his last name as the latest slur used against LGBTQ people. Both Biden and Ban commended Orozco for his bravery and commitment and thanked him for all that he has done to advance equality in Belize.

In addition to the approximately twenty heads of state and government representing the member states of the LGBT Core Group, other notable attendees included U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and U.S. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry. As part of our ongoing global work on LGBTQ rights, HRC was honored to be present at this prestigious and historic event.

Below: HRC Board Member Paul Boskind and Caleb Orozco

Caleb Orozco and HRC Board Member Paul Boskind at #Path2Equality