Thursday, March 01, 2018

Celebrate Zero Discrimination Day by Asking, 'What If?'

Zero Discrimination Day is today, March 1. It is an annual celebration created by the United Nations (UN) and celebrated by the UN and other international organizations, such as the World Health Organization. The day aims to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all of the member countries of the UN. The day was first celebrated on March 1, 2014, and was launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé with a major event in Beijing.

In 2017, UNAIDS called on people to 'make some noise around zero discrimination, to speak up and prevent discrimination from standing in the way of achieving ambitions, goals and dreams.'

The day is particularly noted by organizations like UNAIDS that combat discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. “HIV related stigma and discrimination is pervasive and exists in almost every part of the world including our Liberia", according to Dr. Ivan F. Camanor, Chairman of the National AIDS Commission of Liberia. The UN Development Program also paid tribute in 2017 to LGBTI people with HIV/AIDS who face discrimination.

Campaigners in India have used the occasion to speak out against laws that make discrimination against the LGBTI community more likely, especially Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes being gay.

In 2015, Armenian Americans in California held a 'die-in' on Zero Discrimination Day to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

This year’s Zero Discrimination Day campaign highlights everyday situations where discrimination occurs. It invites people to ask themselves “What if ...” and to reflect upon their own actions.

> What if the person serving you coffee was a refugee? Would you go back to the coffee shop?

> What if the person you bought your vegetables from was living with HIV? Would you buy her food?

> What if your neighbour had tuberculosis? Would you stop to chat?

> What if your child’s friend was living with HIV? Would you let them play together?

> What if your neighbour had a different religion from you? Would you still welcome her into your home?

> What if your colleague was gay? Would you still work with him?

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