The United Nations Human Rights Office has launched a powerful new campaign exploring the role of culture and tradition in the lives of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.

This new initiative is part of the UN Human Rights Office’s ongoing UN Free & Equal campaign – promoting equal rights and fair treatment for LGBTI people everywhere. 

Virgin Unite, LGBTI

"Sadly, some people see the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people as a threat to their cultural values. They may try, wrongly, to rationalize violence and discrimination as a way of protecting their beliefs in the name of culture and tradition. No matter how diverse people’s beliefs and values, culture and tradition are not a license to discriminate or an excuse for violence," state the United Nations Human Rights Office.

Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.

- Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The campaign features a trilogy of short, poignant videos that show what it looks like when culture and tradition are opened to LGBTI people. Below is the first video from the series: UN Free & Equal: Tradition – showing a young man in Mumbai bringing his boyfriend to a family celebration of the Festival of Holi. 

Visit the Free and Equal website to watch the full series of videos from the campaign.

 “To those who claim that protecting dominant culture and tradition sometimes requires denying equal rights to LGBTI people, the UN has a simple message: culture and tradition should bring us together, not drive us apart. Ultimately, the customs, rituals, celebrations and traditions that connect us with one another and with previous generations are capable of absorbing diversity. Far from being threatened, they are strengthened when all of us, including LGBTI people, can join in,” said Charles Radcliffe, Chief, Equality & Non-discrimination, U.N. Human Rights Office.

The U.N. Human Rights Office is determined for this campaign to help people understand that culture and tradition are not fixed: they change over time and are viewed and interpreted differently within societies.

There are traditions of hate and repression, just as there are traditions of equality and justice. and that it's up to each of us to decide for ourselves which ones to carry on. 

Join us as we stand up for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people everywhere. #CultureOfLove