IDAHOBIT 2019: UN-GLOBE letter addressed to heads of UN agencies
Dear [Head of Un agency],
Every year, the world comes together to mark May 17th as the international day against homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, known as IDAHOBIT. At a time when people who identify as LGBTIQ+ face increased persecution or are criminalized around the world, this day continues to be very relevant today, including for your own staff.
UN-GLOBE, the group that represents LGBTIQ+ people in the UN System, asks all UN senior leaders to stand up against homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia. This year’s global theme, “Justice and Protection for All”, is particularly relevant to the UN System.
Not only is the mandate of our Organizations to promote justice and protection for all, but Organizations must also ensure justice and protection for all personnel who identify as LGBTIQ+.
As the recent survey results on sexual harassment in the UN System show, LGBTIQ+ staff continue to be harassed or intimidated by other staff members for being perceived as not conforming to gender norms, for acting too feminine, or too masculine. This is further perpetuated when our current HR system’s gender parity and sexual harassment policies fail to adequately address these multiple forms of harassment.
LGBTIQ+ persons also continue to be disproportionately impacted by heteronormative policies and procedures. For example, parental leave policies grant some parents less leave time than others. If we are serious about building gender equality in [UN agency] equal parental leave for all parents must be central to this. Otherwise, the message that is sent is that it is a woman’s job to raise children, and a man’s job to go out and work. This message is a damaging one.
UN health insurance schemes also don’t acknowledge that not all families are composed of a mother and father—a model that is less and less relevant today at a time of increasing numbers of single parents and parents of the same gender. Insurance must cover the health needs of LGBTIQ+ personnel, including for fertility treatment. Trans personnel should also have their health needs covered.
We hope you take advantage of this day to express your commitment to equality and justice for all, including your own workers. We ask that you mark the day publicly through a statement, and by e-mailing a message to staff. We also ask that you consider attending or organizing an event, whether a panel discussion, or townhall meeting.
And we ask that on May 17th you follow the lead of UNHCR and ILO, among others, and fly the rainbow flag at headquarters to signal inclusion for LGBTIQ+ people in your Organization.
UN-GLOBE stands ready to help. We can help you draft a statement; help you organize an event; or help you with any logistics involved with flying the rainbow flag.
I hope you will join us in taking a stand against discrimination.
Hyung Hak Nam