This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.
20 June 2015
It was incredible to be there with my fellow members of the global diplomatic corps and to have such a stupendous crowd gathered from across Switzerland (and maybe even Liechtenstein).
Here are some pictures posted on Facebook from the event (pls tag yourself)
And here are my remarks:
Thank you, Alan — to you and the whole team from the Zurich Pride organizing committee. It’s an honor and a privilege to be here with you today, both because of my deep conviction that LGBT rights are human rights – a conviction shared by President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and the whole administration – and also because marching together with you was one of my first acts as Ambassador here in Switzerland last June and it helped kick off my tenure here in Switzerland in a truly magical way!
That’s why I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be with you here again and, more importantly, to have my fellow Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps here. Their presence is a great demonstration of this year’s theme of “Equality without Borders.” Let me introduce them (NOTE: Alphabetical order by country):
- Boro Bronza, Ambassador from Bosnia-Herzogovina
- Jamieson Weetman, Deputy Chief of Mission from the Embassy of Canada
- Beatriz Lodono Soto, Ambassador from Colombia
- Richard Jones, Ambassador from the EU
- Jari Luoto, Ambassador from Finland
- Yigal Caspi, Ambassador from Israel
- Maja Jovovic Schmidt, Councilor from the Embassy of Montenegro
- Thomas Hauff, Ambassador from Norway
- Carlos Ruiz, Counselor from the Embassy of Spain
- Magnus Hartog-Holm, Ambassador from Sweden
- Philippe Flück, Counsellor from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- David Moran, Ambassador from the UK
My family and I are proud to be standing with all of you! And of course, let me give a shout out to the Pink Cops who will be marching together with us!
In his Proclamation on the occasion of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to proudly stand alongside all those who fight for LGBT rights.
In the U.S., we’ve made remarkable progress. As recently as 2004, polls showed that about 30% of Americans approved of same-sex marriage. Now the approval rate is about 60%, going as high as 73% among people under age 50. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. We have strengthened laws against violence toward LGBT Americans, taken action to prevent bullying and harassment, and prohibited discrimination in housing and hospitals.
Here in Switzerland just this week Parliament passed an initiative to criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation. An important step.
Our commitment to advancing equality for the LGBT community extends far beyond our borders.
And across the globe, we have seen incredible progress with passing marriage equality measures. Ten years ago in 2005 just four countries had recognized same-sex marriage. Now that number has grown to 19.
But a lot of work still needs to be done. In many places around the globe, LGBT people face persecution, arrest, or even state-sponsored execution. This is unacceptable. The United States calls on every nation to join us in defending the universal human rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters.
It was therefore a logical step for the Obama Administration to appoint Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons on February 23, 2015. During the swearing-in ceremony, Secretary of State John Kerry underlined how confident he is that Mr. Berry will significantly advance efforts already underway to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.
But governments can only do so much. Real change and real understanding comes from the grassroots, from activists and organizers and committed people like you. I encourage you to reach out in your communities and across borders – to deliver the message that LGBT Rights are Human Rights and that none of us are free until all of us are free.