HIGH COMMISSIONER DR. FILIPPO GRANDI delivered this message on Main Stage, San Francisco Pride, 2022, in an historic address for PRIDE and hope. Allow me first to take this opportunity to wish all of you in San Francisco and around the world a happy, healthy, and peaceful Pride 2022.
I would also like to thank Melanie Nathan and her organization, the African Human Rights Coalition, as well as the organizers of the San Francisco Pride, for inviting me to say a few words and – more importantly - for using this historic platform to draw attention to the plight of LGBTIQ+ refugees.
We are all painfully aware that a gathering like this is still not possible in many parts of the world and that violence, bigotry and other forms of hate driven persecution which targets LGBTIQ+ people simply for being who they are continues to force millions into despair, invisibility, and flight.
Our job at UNHCR, along with hundreds of refugees and other partners around the world, is to work so that all people fleeing violence and persecution can reach safety and protection. The challenges are indeed immense, and the results often imperfect, but the practice of providing asylum dates back to ancient civilizations and this most basic of rights must be available so long as war, discrimination, and hate persist.
In the past months we have witnessed a global outpouring of empathy and solidarity for millions of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Unprecedented levels of private giving from citizens across the globe to organisations assisting refugees have also enabled many LGBTIQ+ rights organizations in bordering countries, bordering to Ukraine, to quickly ramp up their work to supporting queer refugees.
It is also inspiring to see the regrouping of a number of Ukrainian LGBTIQ+ rights advocates fleeing the conflict and the support they provide themselves to their queer compatriots. This kind of grassroots action by refugees in the most desperate of circumstances is something that I see time and again around the world and it always leaves me both humbled and uplifted.
Yet as impressive as it is to see the extraordinary support to the Ukraine response, we must not forget that most small organizations focused on LGBTIQ+ rights in other parts of the world, including those run by refugees, struggle to find funding and the operational space needed to support their queer brothers and sisters who are on the run. Like the refugees they support, these courageous front line actors also need more of the world’s attention and support.
So let me close by thanking Melanie again for not only leading this celebration, but also creating thespace for us all to reflect on the plight of LGBTIQ+ refugees and to send them a message of solidarity and hope, no matter where they are. They are neither forgotten nor alone.
Thank you again and my warmest wishes to all of you.
THE VIDEO: SPEECH HERE
PHOTOS BY BILL WILSON - With much gratitude to Bill for all his support.