QUOTES FROM SPEAKERS AT THE LGBTI CORE GROUP DURING THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Jessica Stern opened the event, introducing OutRight Action International, thanking the UN LGBTI Core Group, and welcoming the high-level government speakers. Recognizing the significance of the day’s event she noted, “Today’s gathering is the largest representation of States at the highest level on LGBTI human rights at the United Nations or anywhere – ever – that I’m aware of.”
Commenting on progress at the United Nations since the inception of the UN LGBT core group she said, “Over the past decade, we have witnessed more progress on the human rights of LGBTI people at the UN than in all of the prior years of the UN Combined. Thanks to the sustained efforts of civil society, key UN Members States, and allies across the UN system - the words ‘sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics’ are actually spoken in multilateral negotiations, written into resolutions, named in the Universal Periodic Review process and treaty body engagement - and now constitute sections of work done by UN agencies,” continuing, “We are queer. We’re here. And that matters!”
The first speaker, Lilianne Ploumen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, noted frankly that “LGBTI rights are human rights,” and articulated the ways in which progress has been made.
The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, spoke next. He gave an overview of how Malta transitioned from a deeply conservative country into one that has constitutional protections for LGBTI people, and as the first country in the world to legally ban surgery on intersex children. In a powerful statement, he said, “Bodily diversity should be as significant as the color of one’s eyes.”