UN Announces "Free & Equal" Campaign for LGBT Rights

Russia better watch out.

The human rights office of the United Nations announced a global public education campaign Friday designed to increase support for LGBT rights around the world. The announcement was made at a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The "Free & Equal" campaign promises on its website to "raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and promote greater respect for the rights of LGBT people everywhere."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and gay South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron joined the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the Cape Town press conference.

“I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I'd say, sorry. I mean, I'd much rather go to that other place," Tutu said. Singers Ricky Martin, and Daniela Mercury have also pledged to support the campaign.

The announcement comes after a recent surge in anti-gay violence and legislation around the world. Russia's recently-passed anti-gay propaganda bill (and pervasive violence in the country against LGBT-identified people) has led to a push for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In Cameroon, two men were sent to prison this week for having gay sex, and a prominent gay rights activist and journalist Eric Ohena Lembembe was killed earlier this month. And in Haiti and Montenegro, LGBT people have been violently threatened and harassed.

Pillay said at the conference that the UN's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights — no exceptions, no one left behind. Yet it’s still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.”

Here's a powerful video released by the UN's human rights office as a teaser for the campaign: