The statement “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” appears in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and though the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the document as a “common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations” in 1948, it wasn’t until 1990 that homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder by the World Health Organization. (It did so on 17 May, hence the date of the observance.)
Still, more than one-third of all countries criminalize same-sex relationships. LGBTQIA+ people face prejudice, discrimination, stigma, hostility, violence. They are denied legal protections, essential health care, civil and human rights, including a right to bodily autonomy when forced to go through medical treatment or needless surgery.
This year’s theme is “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights.” UNFPA stands for and works toward rights and choices for all. Everyone has the fundamental right to make decisions governing their bodies, lives and futures, yet too many marginalized people cannot take that right for granted. They cannot fulfil their full potential without exercising bodily autonomy, for it is that right upon which other human rights are built.