UN Migration Agency Director General’s Message on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Gender and Migration

Switzerland - Every person experiences migration differently. Gender identity and sexual orientation can have an impact on a migrant’s journey – unfortunately, often in a negative and even dangerous way.

In 2017, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals still face an alarming number of human rights abuses, including exclusion, discrimination, harassment, public outing, prosecution, corrective rape, damaging medical treatments, torture and murder.

Seventy-five States still have laws criminalizing same sex activities, with punishments as extreme as death. In these communities, discrimination is often deeply entrenched. This can be a factor in why someone migrates or becomes displaced and it can pose serious risks while a person is in transit or once arrived at their destination.

Equality and freedom from discrimination are fundamental human rights that belong to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or because they are intersex.

Today, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, acts as a reminder of the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people around the world. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) reaffirms its commitment to LGBTI migrants and staff members. Together, we strive to be an equal and inclusive organization and workplace for all.

Two of IOM’s fundamental principles are ‘equality’ and ‘non-discrimination’. These principles apply both to our staff and to the migrants we serve.

IOM has a zero tolerance policy for any type of homophobia, transphobia or biphobia and does not tolerate any abuses against migrants and host communities receiving assistance or protection from IOM. We are working to create safe spaces for LGBTI beneficiaries through protection, tailored assistance and staff training. 

IOM also has the same zero tolerance for similar abuses against LGBTI colleagues within the Organization. We understand that some of our IOM LGBTI colleagues face challenges in the workplace. As an international organization, IOM continues to develop new policies and procedures to support diversity and inclusion.

Through our work, IOM is an organization that embraces and celebrates diversity. Let me emphasize, once again, that we are committed to treating all beneficiaries and staff members with respect, regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. 

IOM is an LGBTI ally with zero tolerance for all discrimination.

William Lacy Swing
Director General
UN Migration Agency (IOM)

  • Why does IOM celebrate IDAHOT? Read more here