“This is not a matter of burden sharing. This is a matter of distribution of global responsibility, not only taking into account the broad idea of our common belonging to the human race, but also taking into account very specific international legal obligations. The source of the problems is war and hatred, not people fleeing them; refugees are among the first to be victims of terrorism ”- UN Secretary General António Guterres.
Every year on June 20, the world community celebrates World Refugee Day, approved by the UN General Assembly (resolution 55/76) in 2000.
Refugees and internally displaced persons are defined as persons who fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to racial, religious affiliation, citizenship, political views or belonging to a particular social group who cannot or do not want to return. Many people become refugees due to natural disasters or man-made disasters.
According to international law, refugees are people who cannot or do not want to return to their countries, to their native lands due to well-founded fears of becoming a victim of persecution.
Currently, about 22.5 million refugees and 25 million internally displaced persons are registered on the planet.
In a world where violence forces hundreds of families to flee their homes every day, the support of the international community must be shown. And the international community is consolidating its efforts to alleviate the plight of these people. Established in 1950, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is currently the central international agency working towards this goal.
In 2016, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees launched the #WithRefugees initiative to sign a petition calling on governments to take collective action and share responsibility for the fate of refugees. The petition calls on governments to provide refugee children with access to education, refugee families a safe place to live, and to provide every refugee with access to jobs or new skills.
The term “homophobia” (Homophobia: from the Greek homos – the same and phobos – fear, fear) appeared relatively recently – in 1972. Prior to this, the phenomenon, which today is called homophobia, was a social norm. To refer to the irrational fear of homosexuals, rejection and neglect of members of sexual minorities, the term “homophobia” was first used by the psychiatrist George Weinberg.
The 20th century was, without a doubt, the most homophobic historical period: the deportation of gays to concentration camps under the Nazi regime, the Soviet Gulag, blackmail and persecution in the United States during the McCarthy era … Obviously, all this seems very distant to us. But in many countries, the situation of gays remains exactly that now.
Homosexuality discrimination is observed everywhere: in at least eighty countries homosexuality is prohibited by law, in many countries it is punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years. Sometimes the law provides for life imprisonment. In another dozen countries, the death penalty is applied to homosexuals.
The idea of establishing the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17 was put forward by the French writer and scholar Louis-Georges Ten. The day was not chosen by chance – it was May 17, 1990 that the General Assembly of the World Health Organization excluded homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. Ten expressed the hope that this day will help change for the better the lives of those people who need it most.
International Day Against Homophobia has been officially celebrated since 2003. The recognition of this day poses certain obligations to the international community, which has already come together in the fight against many other forms of discrimination and social violence, but so far in most states it has not provided broad support in the fight for the rights of sex minorities.
The goals of this Day are to counteract any physical, moral and symbolic violence towards people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity; supporting and coordinating all initiatives around the world that help all citizens achieve equal rights; a broader campaign to protect human rights.
For example, in a number of countries that supported the initiative to hold this Day, on May 17 various events and campaigns, campaigns and flash mobs are held related to the International Day against Homophobia and aimed at raising awareness of the planet’s population about the problem of homophobia through the media, as well as promoting bills on equal rights for homosexual and heterosexual persons.
International Day of Families, celebrated annually on May 15, was proclaimed by UN General Assembly resolution 47/237 in 1993.
The establishment of this day aims to draw the attention of the public to many problems of the family. And its implementation provides an opportunity to raise awareness in matters relating to families, and to deepen knowledge of the socio-economic and demographic processes that affect the situation of families.
According to the UN, when the basic rights of one family are violated – the unity of the entire human family of which they are members is at risk.
Thanks to the family, the state is growing stronger and developing, and the well-being of the people is growing. At all times, the development of the country was judged by the position of the family in society and the state in relation to it.
A person’s life begins with a family, and here he is formed as a citizen. The family is a source of love, respect, solidarity and affection, something on which any civilized society is built, without which a person cannot exist. The well-being of the family is the measure of the development and progress of the country.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is held annually on March 21 by decision of the 21st session of the UN General Assembly of October 26, 1966.
On that day in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the laws of the apartheid regime on the mandatory certification of Africans in South Africa.
Proclaiming this Day in 1966, the UN General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. Thus confirming that racial discrimination can be considered a denial of human rights, fundamental freedoms and justice, and it is a crime against human dignity.
The UN also recognizes that discrimination is a serious obstacle to economic and social development, as well as to international cooperation and peace.
Racial discrimination is strongly condemned by the United Nations, and any policy associated with it is not only unacceptable, but incompatible with the obligations undertaken by the member states of the organization under the UN Charter.
However, adversity such as racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which are often directed against migrants and refugees, as well as people of African descent, are being revived in many regions of the world.
The UN again and again calls on all states to comply with the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and take effective measures, including legislative ones, to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, and promote the ideas of tolerance, inclusiveness, unity and respect.
Among the programs that can help combat racial discrimination, the UN considers, in particular, assistance in providing equal opportunities for general education and vocational training, as well as guarantees regarding the enjoyment of basic human rights (without discrimination based on race, color or ethnic origin), such as the right to vote, the right to equal access to social services. Other holidays in the UN Holidays section.
Why the heinous crimes committed by the Nazis against thousands of queer people must never, ever be forgotten.
It is 75 years today since Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated, which signalled the beginning of the end of one of the most horrifying chapters in modern history: the Holocaust.
Every year on this day, the world remembers the millions of people who lost their lives during the Holocaust. Up to 17 million people were exterminated under the Nazi regime, with six million Jews included in that number.
The Holocaust was, at its core, a wide-scale and violent persecution of minority groups – and LGBT+ people were not exempt. Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality in Nazi Germany. 50,000 were sentenced for their “crimes” and an estimated 5,000-15,000 gay men were sent to concentration camps.
Sociologist Rüdiger Lautmann has estimated that up to 60 per cent of gay men incarcerated in concentration camps died during their imprisonment. But these figures only account for those who were persecuted directly for their sexuality. Among the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, there were undoubtedly many more LGBT+ people who kept their sexual and gender identities a secret as they went to their deaths.
The world today is a very different place, but the threat of violence is never too far away for minority groups. Hate crimes have surged across the world, including in the UK and the United States. There was a 37 per cent surge in hate crimes against transgender people in the UK last year, along with a 25 per cent rise in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Meanwhile, there was a 14 per cent rise in disability-based hate crimes, an 11 per cent rise in hate crimes based on race, and a three percent rise in hate crimes based on religion.
In the United States, LGBT+ people, Jewish people and Black people are the most targeted groups. 2018 was the “worst year ever for anti-semitic killings in the United States”, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) at California State University San Bernardino.
These figures serve as a reminder that – while the Holocaust is part of our history – the lingering hatred of anybody seen as “different” is always ready to rear its head.
Holocaust Memorial Day: The Nazis immediately started targeting minority groups when they seized power in 1933.
When Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party seized power in Germany in July 1933, the dictatorship moved to persecute and murder minority groups, including Jews, LGBT+ people, the Romani people, and political prisoners.
Beginning in 1933, the Nazis built a network of concentration camps throughout Germany, where “undesirable” groups were detained, including Jewish people and gay men.
Those “undesirables” often had their uniforms branded in concentration camps so officers knew what kind of person they were dealing with. Many gay people had their uniforms branded with an upside-down pink triangle. The symbol set them apart as sexually deviant, with paedophiles and rapists given the same mark.
Like other prisoners, those who wore the pink triangle were brutalised in ways that most people today cannot even begin to comprehend. Gay men were subjected to torture, including forced sodomy using wood, and many were experimented on. The Nazis also implemented a form of conversion therapy, whereby gay men were forced to sleep with female sex slaves.
Charting the history of other members of the LGBT+ community in the Holocaust is more challenging as they were not given their own distinct categories. Lesbians were sometimes made to wear a black triangle to denote that they were “asocial”, according to Benno Gammerl, a lecturer in Queer History at Goldsmiths, University of London.
There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste.
Meanwhile, trans people were generally lumped in under the same category as homosexuals under the Nazi regime, meaning many also wore the pink triangle. There is evidence that trans people, like gay people, were specifically targeted. On November 11, 1933, the Hamburg City Administration asked the head of police to “pay special attention to transvestites” and to “deliver them to the concentration camps”.
The end of the Second World War did not spell the end of the persecution of gay and bisexual men.
Unfortunately, when the allies liberated the concentration camps, many of the gay people who were imprisoned were not set free. Instead they were transferred to prisons, then under the control of the Allied forces. Same-sex sexual activity between men remained illegal in East and West Germany until 1968 and 1969 respectively.
Because homosexuality was still seen as a taboo topic for several decades after the end of the Holocaust, there are limited first-person accounts from queer survivors. One account, from Pierre Seel, who survived the Schirmeck-Vorbrück concentration camp near Strasbourg, recalled the trauma of watching his 18-year-old lover stripped by SS guards and mauled to death by German Shepherd dogs. Seel died in 2005.
“There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” Seel wrote in his 1995 book I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror.
The pink triangle has been reclaimed by LGBT+ activists as a symbol of liberation and a reminder of the past.
While the pink triangle originated as a symbol of sexual deviancy, it has since been reclaimed as a powerful symbol by LGBT+ people across the world. In the 1970s, with the dawn of the modern gay liberation movement, activists took the upside-down pink triangle and turned it the right way around to use it as a sign of their own difference – and the need for that difference to be accepted, embraced and understood.
In 1972, the first autobiography of a gay concentration camp survivor was published. The Men with the Pink Triangle told the story of Josef Kohout and shone a light on the largely untold treatment of queer people in the Holocaust. The following year, Germany’s first gay rights organisation, Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (HAW) reclaimed the pink triangle as a symbol of liberation.
One of the organisation’s founding members, Peter Hedenström, said in 2014 that the symbol “represented a piece of our German history that still needed to be dealt with.”
The pink triangle was used again in a 1986 poster, as the AIDS epidemic took hold, that read: “Silence = Death.” The poster was later adopted by AIDS organisation ACT UP.
Today, the pink triangle is a timely reminder that we must never forget the horrors that were inflicted on minority groups during the Holocaust. As hate crimes surge across the world, that reminder has never been as important.