To freely choose who we love. Live in the right body. Be openly who we are.
These are deeply human desires – and human rights. Rights that we want for our children, our brothers and sisters, our friends. But also rights denied to too many LGBTIQ people in the world:
More than 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality. In eleven states, you even risk the death penalty for doing so. And in many places, LBGTIQ people suffer discrimination on a daily basis, making their lives hell.
In my country, Germany, we have come a long way – but there is still a long way to go: one in three LGBTIQ people in Germany say they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. And every year, our police record hundreds of hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
All of this is unacceptable. We must stand up for LGBTIQ rights – at home and around the world. This is why Germany is co-chairing the Equal Rights Coalition – together with our Mexican friends.
As Co-Chair, our fight for equal rights will begin where it should: at home.
The German government is preparing a national action plan to advance non-discrimination in all areas of life, including at school and in the workplace. As part of this effort, we created the new office of a Sexual and Gender Diversity Acceptance Commissioner.
We are also updating our laws: we are advancing legislation allowing transgender, intersex and non-binary people to change their gender registration and names without a medical certificate – a step that is long overdue! And we plan to enshrine protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the German constitution.
At the same time, as co-chair of the ERC, we will also step up our international efforts for equal rights. This is part of our feminist foreign policy – a policy to empower all people – regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.
Within the ERC, we are fully committed to the coalition’s strategy and current implementation plan: we will work to end laws and policies that discriminate against LGBTIQ people – and better protect them against violence.
To strengthen the ERC, we are providing 800,000 euros for the Coalition’s next six-monthly conference, a new general secretariat and the co-chair of German civil society, the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany.
For Germany, the ERC is a forum where governments and civil society work hand in hand – and which does not hesitate to take clear positions.
I would like to thank Argentina, the United Kingdom and their civil society partners for their excellent work as co-chairs over the past year. As new co-chairs, Germany and Mexico can build on your achievements:
By advancing LGBTIQ rights around the world. By speaking out against violence and discrimination. And by supporting LGBTIQ people in their pursuit of what we all desire: the right to love, to live our own lives – and to simply be who we are.