On March 7, 2012, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a historic speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, asking countries around the world to decriminalize same-sex relationships and end discrimination against LGBT people. The speech itself attracted some coverage, but what dominated the news that day was the response by the audience: in a major breach of diplomatic protocol, several members of the council, in an obviously prearranged move, staged a coordinated walkout before the speech even began.
The message came through loud and clear: in 2012 there are still many governments around the world who take the firm stance that human rights are for some but not for all. The walkout was a stark reminder that in many places around the world, LGBT people are still demonized, criminalized, attacked, and even killed for who they are. Seventy-six countries still criminalize being gay, and 10 countries make being gay punishable by death or life imprisonment. And the enemies of equality are on the move. Russia's second-largest city, Saint Petersburg, just passed a bill that would make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in any way, and parliaments across Africa are entertaining laws that would further penalize, and even execute, gay people.
To make sure that Ban Ki-moon's powerful speech isn't drowned out by the haters, my colleagues and I at AllOut.org, an LGBT equality movement with close to 1 million members in every country of the world, decided to give it a new life -- by remixing it!
"When someone like Ban Ki-moon speaks out, it makes a difference," said Andre Banks, Executive Director of AllOut.org. "But only if people hear what he has to say."