Speech by HRH The Crown Princess at the opening of IDAHO Forum on 10 May 2016

Offentliggjort den 11. maj 2016

Honorable Ministers, Commissioner, participants

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. But that assertion, for far too many around the world, does not hold true. Even though we write 2016, too many LGBTI people continue to be victims of hatred, violence, discrimination, bullying and ill-treatment – and this we cannot and must not accept.

Sexual rights are some of the most intimate and fundamental of human rights, and therefore at the core of human dignity and human development.  They encapsulate rights to make informed decisions about the most basic aspects of one’s life – one’s body, sexuality, health, relationships, marriage and children.

They are universally-relevant for all communities and countries, regardless of social-economic status, history, culture or faith.

The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) embody a powerful commitment to achieving a life of dignity for all; on the basis that they include everyone, without discrimination, and ‘leave no one behind’.

LGBTI persons are disproportionately affected by the challenges that the SDGs are intended to solve. And although the goals don’t explicitly call for LGBTI equality, their inclusive language is clear and calls to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all’ (Goal 3) and ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ (Goal 5) and they mean just that - all people, whether they are LGBTI or not.

I am very pleased to be here today and I would like to thank the Danish government for inviting me to open and participate in the IDAHO Forum 2016.

By Denmark hosting this year’s Forum, the Government is reinforcing that; this important issue belongs on the international agenda and that LGBTI people must enjoy full access to their human rights and equal participation in society.

The title of the conference is “Building bridges and alliances”. Working together to change social attitudes and promote equal opportunities requires a broad and mutual effort by all of us.  Therefore, it is important that so many relevant actors have gathered here in Copenhagen.

There is great strength in the concept behind the IDAHO Forum, which is; to bring together governments, the private sector and civil society stakeholders to advance LGBTI equality and rights. IDAHO creates a forum for discussion and joint development and for building bridges across Europe in order to promote our common goals and values on this issue.

The conference focuses on two different, but very interlinked themes – social acceptance of LGBTI-persons and LBGTI-persons in the labor market. Both themes concern the participation of individuals in our societies.

Participation in all spheres of society is by most of us considered a basic right and an obligation. Participation is also a basic human need – the need to feel like we belong and are an accepted part of a group or society. 

In other words, we have an interest in the society we are a part of, and we have a need to feel appreciated and valued by others - like our family, our co-workers and workplace, people we meet through activities we have in common and in social settings.

I find it difficult to accept that some people in our societies are met with intolerance and discrimination because of their sexuality or gender identity.  It is important that we look to studies and carry out studies to monitor the extent of intolerance and discrimination that continues to prevail.

Looking across Europe, the latest Eurobarometer survey on ’Discrimination in the EU’ from 2015 shows that a majority of EU citizens express tolerant or supportive views when it comes to social acceptance of LGBTI persons and 71 % of the respondents support equal rights for LGBT people.

Tolerance and acceptance seems to have grown over time. For instance, results also showed that attitudes toward same sex marriages have generally become more tolerant since 2006.

But there are still major challenges. Workplace Pride, which is the international platform for LGBT inclusion at work, assesses, that 76 percent of European LGBT people are not open about their sexuality or gender identity at work and among their colleagues.

In 2014, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) conducted the largest ever LGBT hate and discrimination survey across Europe. The survey was based on information from 93,000 LGBT persons and showed that nearly half of all respondents [47%] felt personally discriminated or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Also, the Eurobarometer on discrimination shows that almost 60 % of EU citizens see discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as widespread.

Unfortunately, we continue to have strong need for the likes of the IDAHO Forum, which offers the opportunity to debate these challenges. We need to ensure and understand how we can create greater progress nationally, regionally and globally.

During this conference you will be presented with the most up to date information and examples of best-practices and know-how from across Europe. And even though European countries are widely diverse in history and culture, we share a lot of commonalities and we know, we learn a lot from each other.

And I am sure that you will be able to add new perspectives on how to promote further social acceptance in society and participation in the labour market.

I am confident that the IDAHO Forum will result in even stronger alliances and collaborations that will lead to greater tolerance and acceptance and ultimately, improve the quality of life for LGBTI persons. 

We must be united in rejecting all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. We need all the support and commitment we can get, in order to build a culture where everyone is accepted and tolerated for who they are and where everyone can participate equally, fully and freely in all aspects of society.

Thank you.