17 May is the international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia (IDAHOT) – an important day aimed at highlighting the hate, violence and discrimination that still persist against LGBTI persons around the world.
LGBTI persons face a very difficult situation in all regions of the world. Hate, violence and discrimination have become a reality for far too many people. In more than 70 countries, same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults is still illegal. Therefore, the fight against hate, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity must continue unabated.
Sweden, on its own as well as through the EU, carries out extensive bilateral and multilateral activities. Here are some examples of what we do within the framework of our foreign policy:
1) LGBTI persons’ enjoyment of human rights is specifically highlighted in the communication on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Swedish foreign policy, which the Government presented to the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) in December last year.
2) The situation of LGBTI persons is an integral part of the 135 country-specific reports on human rights, democracy and the rule of law published by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at the end of April this year.
3) Sweden is actively working in the UN to highlight the situation of LGBTI persons. This includes our work with like-minded countries that resulted in the UN Human Rights Council taking the historic decision in June 2016 to appoint an independent expert against discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
4) For the past year, Sweden has been actively participating in the Equal Rights Coalition with the aim of strengthening cooperation to promote human rights and inclusive development for LGBTI persons.
5) Development cooperation is another important tool in the overall Swedish foreign policy commitment to enhance LGBTI persons’ enjoyment of human rights.
6) Today, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is launching an internal LGBTI educational programme for the entire Swedish foreign service, developed in cooperation with RFSL. The aim is for those working in the foreign service to have relevant skills so that Sweden, in its work around the world, can provide the best possible support on LGBTI issues.
Sweden is a strong voice for LGBTI persons’ enjoyment of human rights – globally, within and through – the EU, and we will continue in this role. We will also continue to use all available diplomatic tools to address and highlight human rights violations against LGBTI persons whenever they occur.