Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the LGBTI Pride Month Reception

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 7, 2023


Happy Pride! Thank you, everyone, for being here. I want to welcome our fellow members of the UN LGBTI Core Group. Our work makes a real difference, and I want to encourage countries that are not yet a part of this group to consider joining.

I also want to welcome the Member States, civil society groups, and activists here this evening – as well as LGBTI members of my team, whom I am so proud to serve alongside.

Last but definitely not least, I want to thank the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus for sharing their immense talents with us. Can we give it up again for them?

When we started planning for Pride, we knew we wanted to infuse this reception with music.

After all, music and the LGBTI community have always been closely intertwined. Music has been a source of empowerment. It has helped change hearts and minds. It has even helped those struggling with their identity.

Because there is power in representation – in seeing yourself in those who are living openly and authentically. Think about what it meant for LGBTI people in the 80s to hear Carl Bean’s disco hit “I Was Born This Way.” Or think about what it means for today’s youth to see artists like Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter singing – and living – with pride.

Billy Porter’s memoir is actually on my nightstand right now. And with every page I read, I am more and more inspired by his story, by his courage, by his activism. I know Billy’s music is on tonight’s playlist, alongside so many LGBTI music icons who are helping us celebrate.

And this is a celebration. This is a joyful day.

But we are also here in service of a greater good. Because Pride is a protest.

A protest that traces its roots to 1969, in this very city, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, including Black transgender individuals, fought back against persecution. That protest inspired a movement – one that has reverberated across the United States and around the world.

But for all the progress we have made, we know we still have so much work to do.

Right now, across my own country, a small but threatening group of people continues to perpetuate hate and violence against the LGBTI community, especially trans individuals. And around the world, LGBTI people are under constant threat.

For example, last year, President Putin signed a law that expanded restrictions on citizens who want to publicly advocate for LGBTI rights.

In Afghanistan, members of the Taliban have made public statements confirming their interpretation of Sharia allows for the death penalty for homosexuality.

And in Uganda, the government just passed a repressive anti-gay law. This past April, I met with a transgender person who was forced to flee Uganda. They were grateful to have found a home in the United States, but as they told me, no one is free until all of us are free.

We must all push back against each and every attack on LGBTI people, on all violations of human rights.

For our part, standing up for the LGBTI community is a top priority for the United States.

On his first day in office, President Biden charged our government with preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And at the UN, the United States continues to lead efforts to advocate for LGBTI issues.

In March, we partnered with the LGBTI Core Group to host the second-ever UN Security Council Arria meeting on L-G-B-T-I issues, where we committed to better integrating these issues into the Security Council’s regular work.

And this year, at the Third Committee, we will present our biannual resolution on democratization and elections, which secured the only consensus reference to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Since this resolution’s last adoption, we have seen more LGBTI people take elected office at all levels of government. We need to follow the example of these leaders, who are fighting for progress in their communities, and who are working to uphold and defend the universal human rights of all LGBTI people.

Our charge, here in New York, is to advance these universal rights in the international system – and to ensure these rights are made real, at the level of the individual.

So let us work together, this month and every month, to fight for those who are not yet free, for those who face violence and persecution and hate, for those who fear they might lose their job or housing or health care because of who they love or how they live, for all those who are denied the chance to live with pride.

As we do, let us draw energy from LGBTI artists, and let us draw inspiration from brave activists who came before us.

Thank you all again for being here. For celebrating with us. And for making Pride a protest.

With that, I’ll pass the mic back to the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. Gentleman – take it away!