As patron of Copenhagen 2021, I bid you all a heartfelt welcome to Copenhagen and to Denmark.
We come together from around the world united in the belief that we are born equal in rights and opportunities, that we have the right to belong despite our differences and with a dream or vision of a world full of societies that are inclusive and embracing and where there is space for each and everyone of us to be true to ourselves and be exactly who we are.
Copenhagen 2021 is a celebration of diversity. And what could be more diverse than us humans in all our shapes and forms, thoughts and ideas, beliefs and opinions, cultures and attitudes, behaviours and expressions.
So welcome to the many great activists, state representatives, allies, and most importantly all of you that are members of the LGBTI+ community. Welcome to the celebrations. As host nation, we are proud to showcase our Danish values of equality and respect for human rights at the core of these celebrations.
This Human Rights Conference is a natural part of the Copenhagen 2021, as human rights and the respect and enforcement of them are integral to every individual feeling secure enough to be exactly who they are.
The global pandemic has brought about unprecedented social and economic challenges and deep sorrow for people and communities all around the world. And it has made it significantly more difficult to make the trip to Copenhagen 2021. Therefore, I send a special welcome to everyone joining us digitally from near and far.
The pandemic has also prevented hundreds of Prides globally from happening in the past year, but the many creative alternatives that arose has proven how resilient and strong the movement is …That the fight for equality will continue as long as prejudice and discrimination keep people and groups marginalized and vulnerable.
‘You Are Included’ is the theme of Copenhagen 2021 and this is fundamental to the protection of human rights and the human development frameworks, such as the SDG’s. However, the assertion that ‘You Are Included’, for far too many around the world, does not hold true.
Even though we write 2021, there are still many societies globally where members of the LGBTI+ community are not included in everyday life. They continue to be victims of hate, violence, discrimination, bullying and ill-treatment – and this we cannot and must not accept.
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life.
Sexual rights are some of the most controversial yet some of the most intimate and fundamental of human rights and are therefore at the core of human dignity and human development. They encapsulate rights to make informed decisions about the most basic aspects of one’s life, one’s body, sexuality, health and relationships.
But human rights are not just abstract concepts, they are defined and protected by law. However, they are not secured by legal rights alone. If rights are to have real meaning, they must live and breathe. The thoughts and ideas behind them must be felt, understood and lived.
The promotion of human rights is not only about defending them. It also concerns working to end prejudice and stigmatization of vulnerable groups and persons. We have an obligation to raise awareness on the issues faced by such groups and individuals and act on that knowledge.
In Denmark, we understand that who we love or which gender identity or sexual orientation we have, should not determine whether we can participate in society – fully, equally and as a valuable part of the community.
Knowledge and understanding are key to ensuring that LGBTI+ communities do not stand alone, in their fight for equality. And achieving equality is a fight for us all – it is a common task, as equality and equal opportunities are integral to building prosperous, inclusive and sustainable societies - societies where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.
In the coming three days the stage of this conference will share the knowledge, stories, and lived experiences of more than three hundred activists from around the world.
There will be plenaries, Sphere Sessions, and over sixty Break Out Sessions will take place online in the days to come. They will all contribute to the valuable content on Copenhagen 2021’s legacy website, making this conference one of this year’s most influential and significant LGBTI+ events globally.
I would like to take a moment to thank the Human Rights Team of Copenhagen 2021, who have worked tirelessly to make this event possible in extremely challenging circumstances.
I would also like to acknowledge all of you, who have or will share your lived experiences in the many sessions this conference hosts.
Your invaluable contributions, your courage to stand up, open up, and to share, are what will make this conference unique and be that forum for change, that we want to live and feel.
Let’s make it right and make this change happen ….. for all of us and the coming generations.