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Secretary-General urges breaking the silence on International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

17 May 2020

International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia takes place on 17 May.

This year’s theme is 'Breaking the Silence', which seeks to highlight the voices of the most vulnerable and marginalised in society while embracing our individual identities.

The following is a statement from Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland:

"As the Commonwealth joins in solidarity to tackle the multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to be vitally important for us to unite as a family of nations and the opportunities we provide to connect and cooperate through far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill. International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2020 provides the chance to reaffirm our commitment to respect human dignity and to champion human rights.  

"Our current Commonwealth theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. Only by working to make the societies in which we live truly inclusive will we make the international progress needed to build and deliver a common future. The dignity and equality of all the people in the Commonwealth, including LGBTI people, must be respected. We must not be silent when human rights are violated, and must speak up boldly for those who cannot or dare not speak for themselves.

"This pandemic is making us freshly aware of the vitally important contributions multilateralism makes by opening up broader horizons for delivering a common future and by bringing to the top of the international agenda the needs of those who have been left furthest behind. To deliver a common future in accordance with our Commonwealth commitment and the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to actively uphold and embrace diversity, and allow no exception to our understanding that human rights are universal and indivisible, and that they are for everyone and must be respected by everyone.

"Human rights are an asset and assurance for individuals. They offer the real promise to each and every individual of a more meaningful, dignified, and secure life, relating as they do to all those areas of human existence which combine to create the sense and reality of wellbeing. So there are rights pertaining to work, social security, family life, access to housing, food, water, health care, education, and participation in cultural life. We exercise them to prevent abuses of power and reduce suffering, to empower the disadvantaged and save lives. This is how we combat intersectional marginalisation and break the silence.

"This IDAHOT, with our resolve made more acute by the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, our collective commitment must be unequivocally to promote and protect the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter and of the Sustainable Development Goals, including the rule of law and equal access to justice for all people throughout the Commonwealth."