State and UNESCO representatives speak out against homophobic bullying

18 May, 2016 - At the UNESCO Ministerial Conference “Out in the Open”, several State officials and UNESCO senior staff representatives spoke out against homophobic and transphobic bullying. The most important ones were Qian Tang and Getachew Engida (UNESCO), Jet Bussemaker (the Dutch minister of education), Kihei Maekawa (the Japanese deputy minister of education), Catherine Lhamon (ministry of education USA), Phineas Langa Magagula (Minister of Education and Training Swaziland, Sonia Mora Escalante (Costa Rican minister of education), Ayesha Wentworth (deputy director in the Namibian ministry of education), Marta Santos Pais (special representative of the United Nations), and Kate Gilmore (OHCHR).

Image: Phineas Langa Magagula, Minister of Education of Swaziland, present the research on diversity related bullying in his country and his commitment to combating it.

Ministers of education showing support

A range of ministers of education, deputy ministers and ministries of education directors pledged support to combat homophobic entrance public bullying in their education systems. A group of about 15 progressive countries has pledged commitment to further the strategy that has been in the past four years. UNESCO project and the following strategy to get commitment from other states was initiated by the Netherlands and lead by its minister Jet Bussemaker. It was good to see that the traditionally supportive states were now joined by Japan, Costa Rica, Namibia, and Swaziland. However, the traditionally supportive Brazil was not visible at the conference.

UNESCO officials commit to maintaining the strategy

It was also noteworthy that several UNESCO officials expressed their commitment to keep on combating violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The most notable UNESCO officials were Getachew Engida and Qian Tang. Getachew Engida is Deputy Director-General and expressed his commitment also on behalf of the Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova. Wr. Qian Tang is Assistant Director General for Education and spoke out two times. These expressions of commitment give the hope that UNESCO will proceed on her strategy against violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, even when there is resistance from some states and with limited funding.

International officials speaking out

There were also some international officials that spoke out in support for the UNESCO strategy. Such support was to be expected of Marta Santos Pais and Kate Gilmore (OHCHR).