Human rights are for everyone

Human rights are for everyone, no matter who you are or whom you love.

– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, this year’s recipient of the Harvey Milk Medal

Free and Equal logoOn Friday, June 26, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the United States Supreme Court ruling that the US Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. He called this decision a “great step forward for human rights.”

In the past, the UN has conducted several studies that show that denying couples legal recognition of their relationship leads to widespread discrimination. LGBTI young people are often exposed to stigma, discrimination and violence, with tragic consequences, including lifelong trauma and self-harm. In 2014, a study in Thailand from UNESCO revealed that 56% of LGBTI students had been bullied in the last month alone. A significant proportion of these students reported missing classes, feeling depressed, having unprotected sex, or had attempted suicide. In some countries, young LGBT persons are subjected to harmful so-called ‘therapies’ intended to ‘modify’ their orientation or identity. Such therapies are unethical, unscientific and ineffective and may be tantamount to torture. In addition, in 76 countries, having a partner of the same sex is even a prosecutable crime. People are arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases may executed, just because they are in a loving relationship.

The health and well-being of all children and young adults must be protected.  This can be done in part by ensuring access to non-discriminatory health services and comprehensive sexuality education, and by protecting the rights of all children and young adults to their identity, autonomy, and physical and psychological integrity.

The 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a resolution to encourage Presbyterians to hold LGBT persons around the world in their prayers, encourage the Presbyterian Mission Agency to create educational resources and to encourage congregations to consider preparations to provide sanctuary, safety and support for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.  

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