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UN launches LGBT equal rights campaign

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] launched a new campaign [press release] on Friday dedicated to raising awareness about discrimination against the LGBT community and promoting respect for equal rights. Known as "Free and Equal," [official website] the campaign focuses on public education as a means of countering intolerance and violence towards the millions of LGBT people worldwide. Through the work of social media, a new website, a series of fact sheets, and celebrity endorsements, the campaign will use education [AP report], according to UN spokesman Charles Radcliffe, as a "weapon against prejudice." While 85 UN member states signed a statement in 2011 expressing concern for human rights violations perpetrated against LGBT people, more than one-third of the world's countries [press release] have codified consensual, same-sex conduct as a criminal offense.

As debate continues, the UN has remained active in its pursuit for equal rights. Last November the UN General Assembly passed [JURIST report] a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions based on "gender identity." In July UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised [JURIST report] human rights activists for their work to protect LGBT rights while calling for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and stressing that violence and discrimination against the LGBT community is a human rights violation. In step with the UN, Human Rights Watch in June urged [JURIST report] the Bulgarian Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva to denounce calls to violence by anti-gay groups in anticipation of a LGBT pride parade in Sofia, Bulgaria. During the same month, Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said [JURIST report] that the government was not discriminating based on sexual orientation. The statement came days after the government had announced [JURIST report] that it would ban at least 38 non-governmental organizations that are accused of recruiting children to homosexuality.

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