Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Side Event Sport against homophobia

Speech by Mr. Karel J.G. van Oosterom

Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN

on the occasion of the side-event Sport Against Homophobia

organized by the LGBT-Core Group in New York on International Human Rights Day

New York, 10 December 2013


Your Excellencies, dear guests, dear colleagues, dear friends,

Let me welcome everyone to our event "SPORT COMES OUT AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA". Wonderful to see such a full house.

My name is Karel van Oosterom, Permanent representative of the Netherlands, and I speak in my capacity as Chair of the core group of countries which promote LGBTI rights here at the UN.

Before kicking-off the event, I would like to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela fought all of his life for equality for all, because -in his words- “to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. The Constitution of South-Africa is the first of its kind that specifically includes protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. That Constitution mirrors Mandela’s conviction. May his vision inspire us all.

Today is Human Rights Day. A day to celebrate the human rights we exercise every day. But also a day to remind us of the responsibility that falls on each and every one of us to promote and protect human rights.

Today’s event builds on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that human rights apply to all. Today we celebrate its 65th anniversary.

This is the fifth event organized since 2009 on Human Rights Day, on the need to end violence and discrimination against LGBTI-people.


The aim of today is to send a common, coherent and unified message in the world. A message you see up on the screen:

Human rights equal LGBTI rights. LGBTI rights equal Human Rights. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Plain and simple: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are entitled to the same human rights as everyone else.

We support all of those who promote and protect human rights for all.

This spirit of sport is the spirit of human rights: fairness, respect and solidarity

Together we seek to make the world safer, freer, and fairer for LGBTI people everywhere

I urge you to send out that message, both in personal contacts, on twitter, Facebook, interviews etc. See sheet with tweet messages.

The recent adoption of the LGBT-Declaration by the ministers of Foreign Affairs of today’s organizing countries is proof that there is growing political commitment. But more and different voices are needed to achieve the goal of real equality.

A sample of those voices is brought together in today’s panel.

Tumi Thandeka Nkhuma, from South-Africa, Hida Viloria, from the USA and Anastasia Smirnova from Russia; I pay tribute to your tireless efforts for laws, policies and their implementation which promote and protect the dignity of LGBTI-people.

Let me also acknowledge Martina Navratilova and Jason Collins: you are helping to improve the often hostile climate towards LGBT-people by talking positively about these issues and educating sports fans in the process.

Our moderator of today: Thomas Roberts, award-winning journalist, successful news anchor. Your vocal support on gay rights is admirable.

Assistant Secretary-general Simonevic. Your Office has done crucial work in promoting and protecting human rights for LGBTI-people. We highly value the clear position of the Secretary General and the whole UN framework on this key issue.

All of you are crucial promoters of our core message: LGTBTI rights equal human rights, and human rights equal LGBTI rights.

Let me conclude by thanking the organizers of today; it is a long list so let me finish and then join me in a resounding round of applause: Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, El Salvador, the European Union, France, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the US, the UN human rights office, UN Women, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay & Lesbian Human rights Committee, Global Action Initiatives and United For Equality In Sports & Entertainment.


See also