Commemorating Human Rights Day

Jenny Crocker co-chair of Spectrum

By Jenny Crocker, Service Manager and Co-Chair of Riverside’s LGBT staff network Spectrum

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10, commemorating the anniversary of the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This milestone document affirms the basic rights and freedoms of all human beings regardless of our nationality, gender, ethnicity, religion, language, or any other status.

Human rights have some key qualities, agreed by the international community. They are:

  • universal – they belong to every single person
  • inalienable – they cannot be taken away from us
  • indivisible and interdependent – governments should not be able to pick and choose which rights are respected.

So, why should we celebrate the Human Rights Day?

Human Rights Day provides the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made, and what we have yet to achieve. While we have seen huge strides towards equality in the UK and some parts of the world in recent years, we still have a long journey ahead of us.

Nearly 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, there have been huge improvements around the globe. The number of countries that criminalise same-sex relations has declined from 92 since 2006. However it is clear that we still have our work cut out for us if we want to ensure human rights are enjoyed equally by all.

Right now, 72 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships and in 10 countries, same-sex activity is punishable by death. Only 50 countries allow trans people the legal right to change their name and gender. In many more countries, LGBT people face discrimination, violence and a whole host of other human rights violations, just for being themselves. Even in the United States, where federal hate crime law has been expanded to include sexuality and gender, nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced at the state level this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

These maps chart LGBT rights progress around the world and make for an interesting read.