UNESCO celebrates Human Rights Day with a seminar on the protection of the right to education of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children and young people

To mark the celebration of Human Rights Day and of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNESCO organized a seminar that focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and young people’s right to education. It took place at UNESCO, Paris, on 10 December 2014 and was attended by some 120 people, representing 25 governments and 40 civil society organizations

The right to non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was affirmed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003. However, LGBT children and young people are often victims of discrimination and violence, particularly in educational institutions, infringing their basic human rights including the right to education.

The Day was an opportunity to showcase the success of the “Education and Respect for All” programme launched by UNESCO in November 2013 with support from the Government of the Netherlands.  Remarkable progress has been made with actions such as:

  • the pioneering action research implemented by Gay and Lesbian Memory Organization in Action (Gala) in five Southern African countries with support from UNESCO and Hivos, to generate the first large body of evidence on homophobic and transphobic violence in schools in Southern Africa;
  • the regional conference in Bogota, October 2014, where government officials and representatives from civil society of nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time compared existing policies and practices to prevent and address homophobic and transphobic violence in and through education;
  • the awareness-raising School Rainbow Campaign organized in Bangkok on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia of May 2014, which mobilized some 2,000 students and teachers.

During the seminar UNESCO announced the development of the first global report on the status of homophobic and transphobic violence in educational institutions, which will be launched at a high-level meeting of Ministers of Education in Paris in 2016.

The seminar was convened by UNESCO with support from the Permanent Delegations to UNESCO of Colombia, Norway, the Netherlands and Uruguay.