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Address at event of the LGBTI Core Group

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's address at the high-level side event “Ending Violence and Discrimination against LGBTI persons: Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” - at the UN 73rd General Assembly.

Distinguished colleagues and guests,

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration is as a moral compass for all of us.

It gives us human rights standards that all UN member states are obliged to fulfil.  

Because we are all born free and equal, in dignity and in rights.

And we all have the same right to life, liberty and security.

We know that violence against, and even killing, of LGBTI people is widespread.

It happens all over the world, too often with impunity.

While we, the international community, always must and will condemn such actions, we see that many governments choose to look the other way.

The political cost of doing nothing can be far lower than taking a stand for humanity and human rights.

Even in cases where violations result in the loss of life.

Such as the horrific reports of violence against real and alleged LGBTI individuals in Chechnya in the Russian Federation.

Criminalisation of same sex relationships fosters prejudice and stigma, and is a root cause of violence.

This is why Norway has a clear policy of promoting universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

In 12 countries, same-sex relations may be punishable by death.

The death penalty is a denial of human dignity, and Norway opposes the death penalty under all circumstances.

No one should have to live in fear for their life because of who they are or who they love.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court of India to decriminalise same sex relations is a powerful testimony to the justness of our cause.

And it is monumental in its own right.

It is a promise of the freedom to be yourself and to be with the person you love in a country of more than 1 billion people.

It gives reason for hope – for all of us – that the fight for equality and human rights for all can be won.

I would like to thank the UN for its leadership in the fight against discrimination and violence targeting sexual and gender minorities.

And at the same time I urge the UN [you], in collaboration with member states and civil society, to do more:

To ensure that all states respect the right to life of all persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals.

And to address the root causes of violence and arbitrary killings, and promote universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The reason we should to do so is simple enough, as recently stated by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Mishra:

[The] ‘LGBT Community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen. Respect for each other's rights, and others are supreme humanity. Criminalising gay sex is irrational and indefensible.

Thank you