Geneva, 9 May 2017 – Today, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)  announced that the organisation will honour Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the LGBTI Friend of the Year” award.

The award will be handed out to the High Commissioner on the occasion of the first edition of the ILGA World Gala, which will take place on June 1, hosted by Ville de Genève at the prestigious Palais Eynard in Geneva, Switzerland. This invitation-only event will occur once every year, and will be an important occasion to celebrate the work of LGBTI organisations, community members, human rights activists and allies who are paving the way to advance equality for LGBTI people everywhere.

“Since assuming his functions in September 2014, High Commissioner Zeid has always been committed to the human rights of LGBTI people” explains Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director at ILGA. “He has made several public statements drawing attention to the dire situation facing LGBTI persons worldwide, and his in-depth 2015 report to the UN Human Rights Council included ground-breaking recommendations to governments on how to better-protect the rights of LGBTI persons. In the face of great misunderstanding and hostility, he has stood firm on the fundamental principle that all persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights and has championed the OHCHR-led UN Free & Equal campaign for equal rights of LGBTI people. This is why we are thrilled to honour High Commissioner Zeid for his work.”

The ILGA World Gala will also be the occasion to celebrate the Ville de Genève joining ILGA as Associate Member. Honouring its long tradition of openness, the City of Human Rights has a strong role in upholding the human rights of LGBTI people and has been working for many years against discriminations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. To reinforce this policy, a civil servant position specially dedicated to these issues was created in September 2012. It was and still remains a first in Switzerland. For all these reasons, eleven years after it hosted an edition of the ILGA World Conference, we will celebrate the City of Geneva joining the organization as Associate Member, and we will confer to its representative Mrs. Sandrine Salerno, Vice-Mayor in charge of Equality and Diversity, a certificate of membership during the Gala.

During the evening, graced also by the performances of cellist John DeVore and folk-rock songwriter and 4-time Outmusic award nominee Namoli Brennet, ILGA will also present its successful programs, international research and education projects.

In 2016 alone, the organisation released 8 high-quality publications and trained more than 150 human rights defenders, providing activists, media organisations and partners with crucial advocacy and education tools.


“We pledge on continuing our human rights work, map trans legal rights globally, gauge the world’s public opinion on LGBTI rights, and research state-sponsored homophobia,” concluded Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-Secretaries General at ILGA. “We count on your support to continue working together with more than 1,200 member organisations from 132 countries to advance LGBTI rights through advocacy, education, research, communications, and organizational development.”